SYDNEY, AAP – Insurance Australia Group has reported a first-half loss of $460 million, after setting aside $1.15 billion for COVID-19 costs, but the insurer improved gross written premium.

IAG, which has brands including CGU, NRMA and SGIO, in November put aside funds for possible business claims relating to the coronavirus.

Chief executive Nick Hawkins preferred to discuss the 3.8 per cent improvement in gross written premium to $6.17 billion.

Gross written premium is the total revenue from premiums an insurer expects to receive from that period.

Mr Hawkins said growth came from rate increases in commercial and home insurance in Australia and across all categories in New Zealand.

The company will pay an interim dividend of seven cents per share, unfranked. This is lower than the previous interim dividend of 10 cents per share, 70 per cent franked.

Shares were higher by 4.55 per cent to $5.29 at 1112 AEDT on Wednesday.