Last year's devastating American hurricanes and other natural disasters cost Zurich Financial Services $3.1 billion (£1.8 billion) after re-insurance.
But the Swiss multi-national still finished 2005 with a bottom line profit of $3.2 billion, a 30 per cent increase on 2004.
Without the weather setbacks, Zurich would have made an under-writing profit of 3.8 per cent of its general insurance premiums. In the event, claims cost 100.8 per cent of the premiums, still a 1.2 per cent improvement on 2004.
"Reflecting the group's policy to only accept business in markets where rates permit underwriting at or in excess of our hurdle rate, gross written premiums and policy fees in general insurance declined one per cent to $33.4 billion (£19.2 billion)," Zurich stated.
Its UK headquarters for commercial general insurance is in Hagley Road, Birmingham. It also has a specialist Risk Services operation in Rubery. Together they employ some 1,200 people.
On the life side, the profit margin on global new business rose by 3.1 per cent to 14.5 per cent, although the total gross new premiums written fell by four per cent to the equivalent of $1.079 billion (£613 million) in new annual premiums.
Britain was one of the countries where Zurich's life sales "gained strong momentum".
The overall knockback was mainly due to an internal shake-up in Switzerland and a 34 per cent decline in sales in Germany where a rush in 2004 to beat tax changes was not repeated.
Zurich's investments, averaging $185.1 billion (£106 billion) over the year yielded $7.8 billion (£4.5 billion) in net investment income, four per cent up on the year. The total investment return, including both realised and unrealised capital gains and losses was $10.3 billion (£5.9 billion).
"We are reporting a record performance following the insurance industry's most severe natural catastrophe year on record," said a buoyant James Schiro, Zurich's chief executive.
The dividend is raised to seven Swiss francs from four in 2004.