Lloyd's told to expect further 2.6bn pounds of losses

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UNDERWRITING members at Lloyd's will be hit by a further pounds 2.6bn worth of losses over the next two years, according to a private research report published yesterday.

Chatset, a company backed by a group of underwriting members that specialises in researching Lloyd's statistics, said the 1990 account would show a loss of pounds 1.6bn, while the 1991 account would show losses of at least pounds 1bn.

That would bring the losses over a four-year period between 1988 and 1991 to more than pounds 5bn - exceeding the pounds 4bn of underwriting members' total deposits and reserves that are needed to support operations at the insurance market.

'This illustrates Lloyd's urgent requirement to obtain new capital,' Chatset said yesterday.

Unlike conventional companies, Lloyd's leaves its accounts open for three years in order that insurance claims may be matched to the original policies and so that a reliable assessment can be made of outstanding liabilities.

It will be publishing the figures for the 1990 underwriting year later this year, and the 1991 figures next year.

Lloyd's officials described the Chatset projections for 1990 as unsurprising.

They said that a number of agents in the market, who look after underwriting members' affairs, had already warned members that losses would be more than pounds 1.5bn.

Some professional underwriters reckon that the losses could be even higher, and may touch pounds 2bn.

Charles Sturge of Chatset said yesterday that Lloyd's 20,000 underwriting members were 'totally shellshocked' by the results of the two previous underwriting accounts in which losses of more than pounds 2.5bn were reported.

'They do not know what is going to hit them next,' Mr Sturge said.

Chatset said that its pounds 1.6bn loss forecast for 1990 included losses of pounds 450m arising on insurance claims in the market's notorious LMX 'spiral' in which losses were magnified many times as underwriters continued to reinsure parts of the original risk on their own account.

The Lloyd's market has been afflicted by an extraordinary run of disasters in recent years. Huge claims arising from the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, Hurricane Hugo, an earthquake in San Francisco, the Philips petroleum explosion in the US, windstorm damage in Europe, and the recent Hurricane Andrew, have brought many underwriting members to the brink of financial ruin.

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