Beazley profits knocked by hurricanes and wildfires

Profits at Beazley tumbled last year as the insurance firm was stung by claims linked to several natural disasters in the US and Japan.

The firm saw pre-tax profit dive 55% to 76.4 million US dollars (£59 million) in 2018, even as gross premiums rose 12% to £2.61 billion US dollars (£2 billion).

Beazley paid out 110 million dollars (£85 million) to clients afflicted by a spate of natural catastrophes, which included two hurricanes in the US, Florence and Michael, and two typhoons in Japan, Jebi and Trami.

To compound matters, California experienced “massively destructive” wildfires for the second year in a row.

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.

Boss Andrew Horton said: “Beazley saw strong growth in 2018 with gross premiums written rising 12%.

“Our US business has been growing extremely well and we underwrote more than a billion dollars of premium locally for the first time in the US last year.

“Although market conditions were challenging, depressing our earnings, we entered 2019 with positive premium rate momentum and higher interest rates that should deliver stronger returns going forward.”