Insurer Beazley counts cost of California wildfires

Insurance firm Beazley has warned that it will take a 40 million US dollar (£31.4 million) hit from claims linked to wildfires in California.

More than 50,000 people in the West Coast state were forced to flee wind-driven flames in November that burned 240 square miles.

The blaze killed dozens of people and destroyed thousands of homes in northern California and was only contained after burning for more than two weeks.

In a short stock market update, Beazley said: “The board’s early estimate of the cost of claims arising from the 2018 California wildfires is 40 million US dollars, net of reinsurance.

“Investment markets continue to be volatile and our year-to-date investment return to 30 November 2018 is 0.5% (27 million US dollars).”

Earlier this year, Beazley said it has paid out 238 million US dollars (£183 million) following a string of Atlantic hurricanes and earthquakes in Mexico.

It came alongside a sharp fall in profits for the first half, which sent shares tumbling.

Pre-tax profits dropped from 158.7 million US dollars (£122 million) to 57.5 million US dollars (£44 million) in the six months to June 30.

That was despite a 15% rise in premium income to 1.3 billion US dollars (£1 billion).