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Direct Line says storm blow will not be too hard

The Direct Line Group yesterday claimed that industry losses from St Jude's storm were likely to be significantly lower than the £500m some experts have predicted.

Paul Geddes, the chief executive, said his company's claims should fall within the £25m it expected to incur from bad weather during the fourth quarter of 2013; he reckons the industry loss will be no more than £125m, less than the £300m to £500m insurance broker Willis predicted earlier this week.

The estimate came as Direct Line increased its operating profits by 20.1 per cent to £417.8m during the first nine months of the year, despite underwriting 4.3 per cent less business. It said motor insurance prices were 5 per cent lower in the third quarter compared to 2012.

"While these results demonstrate our continuing choice to focus on value of business over volume, in motor we were able to reduce average prices for our customers, helped by our own claims efficiencies and the benefits of the recent legal reforms," Mr Geddes said.