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Lloyd's of London's Hiscox eyes 2021 dividend as premiums rise

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(Corrects currency in eighth paragraph)

LONDON (Reuters) -Lloyd's of London insurer Hiscox recorded a 6.3% rise in gross written premiums in the first quarter and said paying a dividend in 2021 was a priority, helped by strong growth in the firm's London market and Europe divisions.

Hiscox has not paid a dividend for the last two years, as insurers grappled with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

But insurers are now benefiting from a rise in rates. Rates rose 13% in the London commercial insurance market, Hiscox said on Wednesday.

"Our big-ticket businesses are benefitting from improved conditions and strong market positions," chief executive Bronek Masojada said in a statement.

"Our retail businesses continue to benefit from the

shift to digital trading."

Hiscox has been working to rebuild its brand after losing a legal dispute over policy wordings for pandemic-linked claims in Britain earlier this year.

The insurer said its board would evaluate the possibility for a 2021 dividend ahead of interim results.

Gross written premiums rose to $1.26 billion in the first quarter.

Hiscox said it had reserved a net $47 million for losses from the North American winter storm Uri.

It said Australian floods and marine losses due to the blocking of the Suez Canal by container ship Ever Given were "not expected to be material events" for the company.

(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn and Muvija M.; editing by John O'Donnell)