Amlin sank to a huge loss of £192m in its first half after "unprecedented levels" of natural disasters took its toll on the biggest Lloyd's of London insurer.
The reinsurance market has already suffered its worst year on record with the earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, the floods in Australia and tornadoes in the US resulting in claims over the first six months in excess of those in all of 2005. Despite this, Amlin expects to return to profit in the second half due, in part, to rising reinsurance prices for the affected areas.
Charles Philipps, the chief executive of Amlin, said: "Exceptional catastrophe losses in the first half of 2011 have taken a heavy toll on the reinsurance industry, and Amlin has been no exception."
Amlin was hit by total catastrophe claims of £314m in the six months to 30 June, compared with £127m a year ago. This year's losses added 34 per cent to its claims ratio – the amount payable as a percentage of premium income.
Amlin's first-half losses were also dragged down by a leap in claims at ACI, the European commercial insurance unit it acquired in 2009. In a profit warning on 2 August, Amlin said its first-half performance was £65m below its expectations.