Zurich Financial Services Group's nine-month net profit rose 25 percent, outstripping expectations, and the Swiss insurer announced a further round of cost savings.

Net profit rose to $4.16 billion, Zurich said on Thursday, above the average forecast of $3.9 billion in a Reuters poll of 11 analysts, and up from $3.7 billion a year ago.

Zurich, which aspires to be among the world's five biggest insurers, also announced further cost savings of $3.1 billion from 2007 to 2010.

It also reassured on its subprime exposure.

The Group continues to have no material exposure to U.S. subprime debt or CDO equity tranches in its investment portfolio, the company said in a statement.

Zurich's main European rivals such as Allianz, AXA and Generali have all posted solid results recently, largely unscathed by the subprime woes that plagued banks in the third quarter.

Zurich's combined ratio of costs and claims as a percentage of premium income rose to 96.9 percent, indicating slightly higher claims. The lower the ratio below 100 percent, the better the underwriting profitability.

According to Reuters data, Zurich trades at 8.3 times expected 2008 earnings, roughly in line with the 8.6 average sector forward multiple.

(Reporting by Douwe Miedema; editing by Sue Thomas)