Insurer FBD Holdings has reported a pre-tax profit of €11m for the year to the end of December as average premiums rose by 9%.

This compares to a loss of €85.9m the previous year. The company also reported an underwriting profit of €3.2m for 2016 compared to the underwriting loss of €124.5m in 2015.

The €11m profit figure for 2016 also included a one-off pension gain of €7m, the company said. 

FBD said its gross written premium for the year came to €362m.

It said this was driven by a reduction in broker business, which was largely offset by price increases in some products along with strong retention of core customers.

FBD's chief executive Fiona Muldoon said the company returned to profit helped by an unusually mild winter, so far, which meant a significant drop in weather related claims compared to recent years.

Ms Muldoon said that while there was some degree of stabilisation in the cost of claims during the year, FBD believes insurance premiums in Ireland are and will remain high until structural claims reform is successfully executed. 

"We welcome the findings of the Government Cost of Insurance Working Group and the focus that it brings to the rising cost of claims for Irish customers. It is important that the Government follow through in translating these recommendations into policies and legislation that will deliver a lower cost, sustainable claims environment for the benefit of all customers," she added.

"Notwithstanding the challenges in our market I believe we are well positioned to make further progress during 2017," the FBD chief said.

FBD said that net claims incurred amounted to €217.5m in 2016, down from the figure of €341.3m in 2015.

But the company added that the claims environment continues to be uncertain with claims inflation still prevalent, although with some emerging evidence of moderation in its growth.

FBD said the weather during 2016 was relatively benign with no events of note. It also said the net cost of large claims - bigger than €500,000 - was €2m lower than the average over the previous three years due to a lower incidence of such claims.

In today's results statement, FBD said that it had delivered on its commitment to simplify and stabilise the business and over the past two years, it has taken the necessary action to return the business to profitability.

"Its underwriting and rating actions mean that the group is now well positioned to begin to deliver sustainable shareholder returns through growth in book value," the company stated.

But FBD said the increasing likelihood of a hard Brexit introduces business and trading uncertainty for all indigenous Irish business - including FBD and its core customers in farming and other local businesses.

"It appears likely that Britain departing the EU will  have negative effects for business and business confidence in Ireland, particularly in the medium term and the group believes this will continue to be a significant headwind to otherwise strong Irish economic prospects," the company added.

Shares in the company were lower in Dublin trade today.