Odyssey Group is a globally diversified underwriter of property, casualty and specialty (re)insurance that operates through five Divisions: North America, Latin America, EuroAsia, London Market and U.S. Insurance. We write business in more than 130 countries through a network of over 30 offices located in 13 countries. Gross premiums written were $5.7 billion in 2021 compared to $4.4 billion in 2020.
Above average Cat activity in recent years, including modelled and un/under modelled events, and COVID-19, have presented challenges to many in the (re)insurance industry. By staying true to our core principles of diversification, discipline and patience, Odyssey Group continued to grow the Company responsibly and profitably, never compromising our commitment to provide financial security and stability to our clients. Our employees have adapted and thrived in the changing work environment and continue to seamlessly deliver the high-quality service our clients and business partners have come to expect.
Diversification is critical to our business strategy as it provides portfolio stability. Any challenges or difficulties in one region of the world or in one of our product lines is usually more than offset by the opportunities or favorable conditions in another. Our consecutive 10-year track record for reporting an underwriting profit is in large part a testament to our diversification strategy. In addition, our global network and varied underwriting platforms enables us to respond rapidly to business opportunities as they emerge around the world. We have 36 discrete business units organized along different product, territorial and distribution lines, with 19 of these focused on reinsurance and 17 dedicated to insurance markets.
North America Reinsurance
London Market (Re)insurance
Latin America Reinsurance
InsuranceNon-U.S. Total 30%
With a portfolio heavily weighted to reinsurance, property again accounted for 26% of gross premiums written. However, with meaningful market corrections over the past few years, our appetite for U.S. property insurance risk underwritten through Hudson is developing in specialized areas.
The increase in Cat losses during 2021 primarily stemmed from summer storms and floods in Central Europe, which created industry losses of a magnitude not seen in Europe in over 20 years, and the unprecedented Winter Storm in Texas. Catastrophe business only represented 24% of our property book, compared to 28% in 2020, as rate adequacy remained a concern. We continued to grow our property book by focusing on significant opportunities for proportional business with limited Cat exposure.
While we have seen narrowly focused, experience-driven improvement in reinsurance rates, until the market adopts appropriate risk-responsive pricing that addresses un/under-modeled losses, our appetite for Cat exposure will remain limited.
Our diverse Casualty book of business, which represents 36% of our gross premiums written in 2021 compared to 34% in 2020, grew 37% to $2.1 billion. The insurance business written through Hudson and Newline currently represents 70% of Odyssey Group’s global casualty portfolio. The pricing momentum achieved in Directors & Officers Liability and Excess and Umbrella Liability business continues to make these lines attractive, although that momentum is moderating. For much of the last decade, our growth in casualty has relied heavily on insurance, not only because it gave us greater control over pricing, risk selection and claims handling, but we could also use reinsurance to reduce volatility. As the benefits of the improving insurance market have flowed into reinsurance over the last few years, so has our interest in expanding OdysseyRe’s casualty portfolio, especially for business emanating from the U.S. and London. Commission rates on quota share business remain stubbornly high, tempering our enthusiasm for additional growth in reinsurance.
Odyssey Group’s specialty lines portfolio encompasses Crop, Surety, Credit, Marine, Aerospace, Motor, Accident & Health, Affinity & Special Risks, Cyber Liability, Energy and Multiline, with Hudson and Newline representing 64% of Odyssey Group’s global specialty portfolio. The specialty portfolio grew by 22% in 2021, to $2.2 billion, representing 38% of gross premiums written in 2021 compared to 40% in 2020. Expansion of our Crop and Livestock insurance business is the main driver behind overall growth in Specialty, helping to provide further diversification benefits. In addition, healthy growth in our Cyber book stems from hardening market conditions, as insurers raise rates, tighten limits and impose coverage restrictions.
As the pricing environment in many specialty lines tends to be more localized, our growth is more targeted, allowing us to use our global reach to take advantage of opportunities as they have arisen. Specialty lines remain an important focus for us as they offer a diversified stream of earnings that are generally less volatile and capital-intensive, making further expansion attractive.
Odyssey Reinsurance Company, our flagship carrier, operates through a branch and representative network of 14 offices located in 10 countries around the world. In 2021, we wrote $2.8 billion of gross premiums written, an increase of 28% over the prior year, with growth coming from every region and most product lines. After producing an underwriting profit for nine straight years, our reinsurance portfolio generated a combined ratio of 100.0% in 2021, compared to 92.4% in 2020. The high Cat activity was largely offset by positive results in other lines.
Principally operating as commercial lines underwriters in the U.S. through Hudson Insurance Group and internationally through Newline Group, our insurance gross premiums written were $2.9 billion in 2021, an increase of 30% over the prior year. For the eight straight year, our insurance operations generated an underwriting profit, with the net combined ratio coming in at 90.9%, 5.2 points better than the prior year. Growth in our insurance lines was driven by the continued positive rate environment in many markets, as well as our ability to act quickly on opportunities arising through our network of business partners. Our business pipeline is strong and the rating environment, though moderating a bit, remains positive, so we remain bullish about our future growth prospects.