Beazley upbeat despite profit dive

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The Independent Online

Profits tumbled at the Lloyd's of London insurer Beazley last year, but its chief executive Andrew Horton still reckons it was a "strong performance in the worst year on record for insured natural catastrophes".

Beazley made a pre-tax profit for 2011 of $62.7m (£39.7m), down from $250.8m in 2010, reflecting $215m of catastrophe losses from earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, tornadoes and hurricanes in the US and floods in Thailand and Australia.

Insurers absorbed an estimated $108bn of catastrophe-related claims in 2011, according to the reinsurer Swiss Re, making it the industry's second-costliest natural disaster year after 2005, when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.

Beazley also said it was expecting rival bidders to emerge for the Lloyd's insurer Hardy, which announced a strategic review at the end of last year. Beazley, which abandoned a £180m bid for Hardy in 2010, has said it is interested in another attempt.

Meanwhile, rival insurer Amlin said it was able to raise prices, helped by strong demand for catastrophe reinsurance. "Unprecedented catastrophe loss activity in 2011 has prompted a notable uplift in reinsurance rates," Amlin said.