(Bloomberg) — Hannover Re, the world's fourth-largest reinsurer, may increase the proportion of profit distributed to shareholders after full-year earnings increased by 17%.

The company may raise the payout from the current 35% to 40% of net income "if the present comfortable level of capitalization remains unchanged," Hannover Re said in a statement on Thursday.

Reinsurers help primary insurers shoulder risks for events such as natural disasters. While they have seen earnings squeezed by record low interest rates, below-average losses from natural disasters have helped bolster earnings. 

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