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Underwriting and operating profitability improved in 2012’s first quarter, data from ALIRT Insurance Research shows. After four straight years of underwriting losses, the industry managed an underwriting profit through the first three months of this year. The improved underwriting results led to a rise in return on equity.

But the industry continues to derive most of its pretax net income through investment gains rather than underwriting results, and those investment gains are pressured by the low-interest-rate environment, ALIRT says. Additionally, reserve releases continue to play a large role in helping reported underwriting earnings. 

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