Lloyd's of London profits halve as catastrophes hit

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Media captionChief Executive Richard Ward on poor results and underwriting Ugly Betty's smile

Lloyd's of London, the world's biggest insurance market, has reported a 50% fall in profits for the first half of 2010 as a result of costs from the Chilean earthquake and Gulf oil spill.

Pre-tax profits came in at £628m compared with £1.32bn a year earlier.

Lord Levene, the Lloyd's chairman, described the period as the "costliest on record".

The market paid out a total of £5.9bn in claims during the six months, £365m more than a year ago.

"We have seen a higher number of catastrophes this year than we have seen for the past 20 years," Lloyd's chief executive Richard Ward told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"We have not had a bad year, we have just had more claims to pay."

He estimated the net loss to Lloyd's of the Chilean earthquake at $1.4bn (£886m), while the the Gulf oil spill cost the market between $300m and $600m.

Mr Ward also said snow storms in the US, wind storms in Europe, and earthquakes in China and Haiti had contributed to the high claims payout for the period.

He also confirmed that Lloyd's had not insured the Commonwealth Games as there was not enough information to price the risks involved satisfactorily.

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