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Lloyd’s CEO in rate discipline call after $800m loss

Following the second costliest year for catastrophes on record for the insurance industry, Lloyd’s today announced a loss of £516 million (US$800 million) for 2011.

Lloyd’s incurred total net claims of £12.9 billion (US$20.6 billion) during 2011, including £4.6 billion (US$7.4 billion) of catastrophe claims, making it the largest catastrophe claims year on record for the 324-year-old insurance market.

This follows a series of major catastrophes including flooding in Australia in January, the second earthquake in New Zealand in February, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March and the floods in Thailand beginning in July. Total claims from natural catastrophes for the insurance industry in 2011 were US$107 billion .

Lloyd’s Chief Executive Richard Ward said: “Make no mistake, 2011 was a difficult year for the insurance industry. Given the scale of the claims, a loss is unsurprising but it reflects what we’re here to do – help communities and businesses rebuild after disaster.

Lloyd's CEO Richard Ward "disappointed over rate discipline"

“It is also reassuring that, despite this loss, our financial strength has been maintained. It’s testament to Lloyd’s robust oversight and professionalism in the market today.

“However I am disappointed that, given the exceptional level of catastrophes in 2011, insurance rates have not responded more positively. These events demonstrate the need for the industry to show discipline in terms of pricing.”

Chairman of Lloyd’s John Nelson said: “The Lloyd’s market has emerged from its largest catastrophe year ever in a strong position. Our strong capital position is unchanged and we were able to make a profit in the second half of the year despite the floods in Thailand and continuing low investment returns.

“2012 remains challenging for insurers with tough economic conditions globally. It is vital that the market continues to take a disciplined approach to underwriting.”

Financial highlights:

  • Loss before tax of £516 million (US$800 million; 2010: profit of £2,195million).
  • Combined ratio of 106.8% (2010: 93.3%) is in line with an estimated average of: 108% for US property and casualty insurers ; 107% for US reinsurers ; 105% for Bermudian insurers and reinsurers ; and 101% for European insurers and reinsurers .
  • Total resources of the Society of Lloyd’s and its members at £58,870 million (US$91,249 million; 2010: £55,230 million).
  • Central assets at £2,388 million (US$3,701 million; 2010: £2,377 million).
  • Investment return of £955 million (US$1,528 million; 2010: £1,258 million).
  • Prior year reserve surpluses of £1,173 million (US$1,818 million; 2010: £1,016 million).

Comment

Richard Ward would not be the first CEO at Lloyd’s to complain that managing agents could be in danger of chasing premium instead of maintaining discipline and holding rates up. Ever since the creation of the Franchise Performance Directorate, successive CEOs have banged the drum to ensure underwriters play a more sensible game. But with international markets increasingly competitive it will be interesting to see what reaction underwriters take throughout 2012; particularly if this year’s North American hurricane season is more benign than average.

About Ralph Savage (138 Articles)
Insurance and legal journalist Ralph Savage has written extensively for the financial and professional services sectors, most notably as News Editor of Post Magazine. He ghost writes regularly on behalf of FTSE 250 CEOs, leading counsel and senior professionals including solicitors, insurers, accountants and brokers.

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