The Lloyd's of London insurance market crashed to a first-half loss of 697 million pounds ($1 billion), weighed down by record claims from natural catastrophes including the March 11 Japanese earthquake and tsunami.
The loss compares with a profit of 628 million pounds a year earlier, and reflects a total of 6.7 billion pounds in claims absorbed during the first half, making it the costliest six-month period in Lloyd's 323-year history.
Many insurers have reported steep half-year losses after an unprecedented run of natural disasters which also included an earthquake in New Zealand and heavy flooding in Australia.
This year already ranks as the second most destructive on record for catastrophe losses after 2005, with insurers absorbing $70 billion in claims in the first six months alone, according to Swiss Re, the world's No. 2 reinsurer.
Last month, Catlin, operator of the biggest Lloyd's syndicate, sank to a first half loss of $201 million, while rivals Amlin and Hiscox unveiled deficits of 192.3 million pounds and 85.6 million pounds respectively.
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