Insurer Chubb exploring deal to buy smaller rival Hartford Financial: Bloomberg News

(Reuters) – Property and casualty insurer Chubb Ltd is considering buying smaller rival Hartford Financial Services Group Inc, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Chubb, one of the world’s largest insurers, has made a preliminary takeover approach for Hartford and talks are at an early stage, the report said. (bit.ly/3cPrsMa)

Hartford’s shares soared 11% after the news, giving the company a market value of $20.52 billion, Refinitiv data showed. Chubb’s stock was marginally lower.

A potential deal would be the biggest in the sector since Aon Plc’s $30 billion acquisition of Willis Towers Watson last year and comes as the insurance industry faces billions of dollars in claims stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chubb and Hartford did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

Chubb’s Chief Executive Officer Evan Greenberg warned early last year that the coronavirus crisis would likely spur the single-largest loss in the industry’s history. The insurer booked $1.19 billion in pandemic-related losses in 2020. (reut.rs/3ttLZg00)

Chubb, which reported $41 billion of gross written premiums last year, also provides personal accident and supplemental health insurance, as well as life insurance, in 54 countries and territories.

Founded in 1810, Hartford reported $17.3 billion in total premiums last year. The company provides coverage for workers’ compensation, management and professional liability, and other specialized areas, including political risk.

Hartford famously sold baseball slugger Babe Ruth an insurance policy in 1920 for disability protection and also insured the only home Abraham Lincoln ever owned.

Chubb traces its roots to 1882 when Thomas Caldecot Chubb and his son Percy opened their marine underwriting business in New York City.

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