Investors have raised the share price of QBE by seven per cent after its first half net loss was not quite as bad as forecast.

The insurer reported a net loss after tax of $US712 million, due to drought, bushfire and pandemic claims, following a net profit of $US463 million in the same period last year.

However, the result was marginally better than the $US750 million loss management estimated in July.

The summer bushfires, which ravaged most of Australia, as well as storms along the nation’s east coast, led to catastrophe claims of $US308 million.

This was a significant rise on the $180 million in claims at the same time last year, and exceeded QBE’s allowance of $US252 million.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic prompted the insurer to freeze premium rates for some business types in its Australia-Pacific region.

Still the company managed to increase gross written premium, a key industry measure of success, by 10 per cent to $US8.04 billion.

Renewal premium rate increased averaged 8.7 per cent, an improvement on 4.7 per cent in the same period the prior year.

Shareholders will receive an interim dividend of AU4 cents per share, franked at 10 per cent.

This is lower than the 2019 interim payout of AU25 cents per share, franked at 60 per cent.

At 1436 AEST, QBE shares on the ASX were trading higher by 7.01 per cent to $10.76.