Yet, AXIS Re saw significant underlying improvement in non-catastrophe lines driven by our emphasis on high quality underwriting and disciplined portfolio management. This was evidenced in our current accident year loss ratio, ex-catastrophe and weather, which improved to nearly 60.6%, an improvement of 3.4 points in 2020 versus 2019. We also achieved rate increases averaging 8% across our book of business. In order to generate adequate risk-adjusted returns across the industry, momentum must continue globally.
As conditions continue to strengthen, AXIS Re is well-positioned. We have a unique mix of the capital and scale to support growth, while being lean and agile to respond to changing market conditions and client needs. We bring a broad, global product offering and teams with deep expertise and strong client relationships. We are focused on driving toward improving margins and returns, premium growth in key markets and lines of business and reduced volatility in our business — and we are poised to succeed in a hardening market and beyond.
In addition to seeing an improvement of 3.4 points to our accident year loss ratio, ex-catastrophe and weather and improving rates, in 2020 we took additional decisive actions to restore profitability. They included reducing our cat volatility across all lines of business, and continuing to address relevant areas of increased risk, such as climate change. Furthermore, we steered our capital away from low-return business and towards high-return business and relationships.
Our actions led to a reduction in gross premiums written, of $414 million, or 13% in 2020 as compared to 2019. This was primarily attributable to decreases in unprofitable lines of business, rebalancing portfolios and overall optimization of mix, which was partially offset by growth increases in lines of business that had favorable attributes. Pre-tax catastrophe and weather-related losses, net of reinsurance and reinstatement premiums were $330 million, including $156 million attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, a unique event impacting our industry.
Throughout the year, we maintained a strong franchise, continuing to foster solid relationships with our partners. We were active and visible, driving clear and consistent communication, demonstrating high sales acumen and maintaining high client satisfaction levels — being quick and agile in a rapidly changing market. As a result, even with the limitations due to COVID-19, we achieved approximately 12,000 client interactions — the most in AXIS Re’s history.
In 2021, AXIS Re will continue to focus on smart, profitable growth, while remaining both objective and flexible. We will pursue opportunities that play to our strengths, always with an emphasis on strong technical underwriting and prudent portfolio management. We will continue to collaborate with and listen to our clients, finding the right intersection of our portfolio objectives and their needs. We are excited and confident about the future, as we focus on being a profitability leader in the global Reinsurance market.