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Markets News

UPDATE 1-Insurer Beazley flags underwriting loss, sees $80 mln catastrophe costs

(Adds details from the statement, JPM comments, rivals’ estimate)

Nov 6 (Reuters) - Beazley indicated on Friday that it would post an underwriting loss for the year, as the British specialist insurer set aside $80 million to pay out catastrophe claims and reiterated its pandemic-related loss estimate.

Beazley said its initial catastrophe estimate included hurricanes Laura and Sally and the California wildfires.

The company said it expects a full-year combined ratio of around 110% versus the 100% it had forecast in July. A level below 100% indicates an underwriting profit.

“At this point a dividend in respect of FY20 appears unlikely,” JP Morgan analysts said. They also lowered their 2020 pretax profit estimate by $43 million to a loss of $98 million.

Beazley, which manages six Lloyd’s syndicates, in September doubled its claims estimate related to the coronavirus crisis to $340 million, with almost all the increase caused by a wave of event cancellations.

The company said its investment returns plunged to $124 million as at Sept. 30 from $215 million a year earlier, warning that its fixed income assets are not likely to contribute materially to returns in the near future due low U.S. bond yields.

Shares in Beazley, which provides casualty and property, cyber and political risk insurance, are on track for their worst annual performance with a 45% drop so far.

Rivals Hiscox and Lancashire this week estimated up to $75 million each in catastrophe losses. (Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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