Insurer Lloyd's of London slides into heavy loss


London (AFP)

The insurance market Lloyd's of London on Wednesday announced a first annual loss in six years following a series of devastating hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Lloyd's reported a pre-tax loss of £2.0 billion ($2.8 billion, 2.3 billion euros) for 2017, which compared with a pre-tax profit of £2.1 billion a year earlier, the group said in an earnings statement.

"The market experienced an exceptionally difficult year in 2017, driven by challenging market conditions and a significant impact from natural catastrophes," Lloyd's chief executive Inga Beale said in the release.

"These factors mean that for the first time in six years Lloyd's is reporting a loss," she added.

Lloyd's said it was hit by claims totalling £4.5 billion last year, more than double the amount in 2016.

"In addition to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, among other events (in 2017), there were also devastating wildfires in California, an earthquake in Mexico, monsoon flooding in Bangladesh and a mudslide in Colombia," added Lloyd's chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown.

Lloyd's loss comes as the company prepares for life after Brexit, with the opening of a Brussels subsidiary in early 2019.

Seeking to ensure its access across the European Union continues once Britain leaves the block in March next year, Lloyd's decided in 2017 to shake up its operations.