US Superstorm Sandy fails to blow Lloyds off course

Firefighters work at the scene of a house fire in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy
Firefighters work at the scene of a house fire in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy
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SPECIALIST insurance market Lloyd’s of London has returned to profit despite Superstorm Sandy causing one of the largest claims bills in its 325-year history.

The surplus of £2.8bn is in sharp contrast to a year ago, when Lloyd’s recorded a loss of £516m in what turned out to be the second most expensive year on record for the insurance industry.

The market, which is made up of 89 underwriting syndicates, incurred net claims of £10.1bn in 2012, including £1.4bn after Sandy struck the Caribbean and North America in October.

But the total claims figure was still better than the £12.9bn in 2011 following floods in Australia and Thailand and the tsunami in Japan.

Yesterday’s profit result was the strongest since 2009 and came after Lloyd’s generated record premium income of £25.5bn last year, partly as a result of average rate rises of 3 per cent. Its return on investment was up to £1.3bn from £995m a year earlier.

The Lloyd’s market has shown in recent years that it is more than able to cope with major catastrophes and met its claims in 2012 without any reduction in its central assets figure, which stood at a record £2.5bn.

The most expensive event to rock the insurer was Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which caused claims worth £2.8bn.

Lloyd’s recently unveiled Vision 2025, which sets out plans to grow the business in faster growing markets and to make London the ‘global hub’ for specialist insurance and reinsurance by 2025.

Among previous changes to modernise the market, Lloyd’s has introduced a new franchise structure and phased out the number of Names who backed the market with an unlimited liability.

Richard Ward, chief executive, said: “The Lloyd’s market has posted a strong result, despite incurring 12bn euros of total net claims in 2012, including Superstorm Sandy, one of the costliest natural catastrophes in history.

“While the economic environment remains challenging, the Lloyd’s market is capitalised at record levels and our overall financial strength is recognised in our A+ ratings.” John Nelson, chairman, said: “These results, combined with our capital strength, are a good platform from which to work towards our vision of strengthening our position as the global centre for specialist insurance and reinsurance in 2025.”

Lloyd’s occupies fifth place in terms of global reinsurance premium income and is the largest surplus lines insurer in the US. In 2013, 89 syndicates are underwriting insurance at Lloyd’s, covering all classes of business from more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.

Listed companies which operate syndicates at Lloyd’s include Catlin, Hiscox and Amlin. Yorkshire brokers include Oval, of Wakefield, and W Denis, of Leeds.