Thursday 26 March 2020 7:57 am

Lloyd's swings back to profit, but says coronavirus impact 'uncertain'

Lloyd’s of London said today it is in a “strong” position to support people amid the coronavirus outbreak, as it swung back into profit for 2019.

Lloyd’s swung from a £1bn loss in 2018 to a pre-tax profit of £2.5bn last year, it revealed today.

Read more: Lloyd’s of London has emergency coronavirus plan in case building locked down

But chief executive John Neal said the insurer’s “primary focus” was on supporting customers and businesses through the global coronavirus crisis.

“I am confident in Lloyd’s ability to meet the challenges before it, and in doing so demonstrate the market’s unrivalled ability to support people, businesses and countries around the world in response to the far-reaching impacts of Covid-19,” he said.

The insurer warned the impact of coronavirus on 2020 insurance claims was too unpredictable to guide to.

“The full impact of this on the insurance industry, including the Lloyd’s market, is uncertain,” it said.

Lloyd’s has sent its workers home and closed its underwriting room after enforcing emergency trading protocols.

“This is having a direct impact on risks within all three pillars of the Society’s risk objectives,” the insurer said.

“All the impacts on the Lloyd’s risk profile from the pandemic are being regularly monitored, which includes an assessment of whether the controls currently in place are adequate to mitigate the evolving risks.”

It said it is monitoring the impact on its business, as well as setting up a “dedicated contact point” to offer policyholders assistance.

Chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown added: “The beginning of 2020 has proved exceptionally difficult as Covid-19 spreads rapidly around the world with devastating consequences for families, communities and the global economy. Now more than ever, our customers need us to be ready to support them through these challenging times.”

The figures

Lloyds recorded a pre-tax profit of £2.5bn in 2019, up from a £1bn loss in 2018.

However, the insurer also revealed a combined ratio of 102.1 per cent, meaning it paid more out on insurance claims than it received in premiums.

That figure fell 2.4 percentage points from 2018, though.

It came as gross claims paid hit £23bn, compared to 2018’s £19.7bn, a dramatic rise after a year of floods and fires.

Lloyd’s pointed to Typhoon Hagibis in Japan, Hurricane Dorian, and US anbd Australian wildfires for pushing up claims.

More to follow.