Lloyd's of London posted a £3.2bn profit last year as fewer natural catastrophes offset the impact of low interest rates. The world's largest insurance market said total claims fell from £10.1bn to £9.6bn. It said winter flooding across the UK would not lead to big losses for the underwriters operating across its syndicates.
Revenues from insurance premiums hit a record £26.1bn, although investment income fell 36 per cent to £839m. John Nelson, its chairman, said: "While we saw fewer catastrophe claims in 2013, continued low interest rates saw reduced investment income and high levels of capital continuing to flow into the market, which put pressure on prices."
In December, Inga Beale became the first female chief executive of Lloyd's in its 325-year history. Yesterday, she said her appointment had been a "great statement" by the City institution. "I love all the talk… about putting more women on boards and in executive teams. I'm totally supportive of it."
Mr Nelson and Ms Beale said Lloyd's would continue to improve its technology and expand its presence in emerging markets as part of its Vision 2025 programme.
Lloyd's combined ratio (a figure used to work out underwriting profitability) was 86.8 per cent last year. A ratio below 100 per cent means premiums exceeded money paid out in claims.
Andrew Goldsworthy, a partner at Mazars, said the results reflected a "benign catastrophe claims environment". However, he added that this had "exposed the [continued] weak economy and soft rating climate, especially in motor" and that other business lines were yielding poorer returns.