Lloyd's of London back in profit as disaster claims drop

LONDON Wed Sep 26, 2012 5:23am EDT

Men ride elevators at the headquarters of Lloyd's of London, in the City of London May 13, 2011. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

Men ride elevators at the headquarters of Lloyd's of London, in the City of London May 13, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Chris Helgren

LONDON (Reuters) - The Lloyd's of London LOL.UL insurance market swung back into profit in the first six months of 2012 after a comparative lack of natural catastrophes reduced its claims by nearly a third.

Lloyd's on Wednesday said it made a profit of 1.5 billion pounds ($2.44 billion) in the first half, compared with a loss of 697 million pounds a year earlier, when it paid out billions in claims because of earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand.

"This is a welcome return to profit for the market after a six-month period that could not be in greater contrast to the first half of 2011," Chief Executive Richard Ward said in a statement.

The market absorbed total claims of 4.6 billion pounds in the first half of the year, net of reinsurance.

Lloyds, which traces its origins back 324 years to a London coffee house where merchants met to insure ships, crashed to its second worst annual loss in 2011 as insurers paid out a near-record $116 billion in natural catastrophe claims.

The market's financial performance represents the combined results of about 80 competing insurance and reinsurance syndicates that operate under its banner. ($1 = 0.6152 British pounds)

(Reporting by Myles Neligan; editing by Sinead Cruise)