(Bloomberg) -- U.S. workers’ compensation insurers, a group ledby Travelers Cos. and Hartford Financial Services Group Inc.,posted their first underwriting profit since 2006, helping theindustry counter lower yields on bond portfolios.

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Insurers had an underwriting profit of 2 cents per every premiumdollar, after claims costs and expenses, for a combined ratio of 98last year, according to preliminary data Tuesday from the NationalCouncil on Compensation Insurance, an industry group. That compareswith a combined ratio of 102 a year earlier and 109 in 2012.

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Job-related injuries can emerge long after a policy is sold,meaning that insurers can invest premium dollars for years beforepaying claims. The companies have found it harder to count oninvestment income lately, leading them to be more selective aboutthe insurance risks they accept and to raise prices for some typesof coverage.

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“The reality is, in today’s interest-rate environment, we needto be driving combined ratios under 100,” Steve Klingel, chiefexecutive officer of the group, said in a presentation.

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Travelers, Hartford and American International Group Inc. areamong companies that have increasingly focused on technology toassess the risks of claims. New York-based AIG has been using datato isolate and contain expenses, such as those tied to excessiveuse of opiates to treat injuries.

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The industry has also benefited from a rebound in U.S.employment. Policy sales for private carriers climbed more than 4%last year to $38.5 billion, according to the NCCI.

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“Our industry runs in cycles,” Klingel said. “I feel pretty safein saying that at some point in the future, numbers willdeteriorate once again.”

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