Lloyd’s insurer Hardy has made a loss after tax of £17.1m for the first half of 2011, compared with a profit of £2m in the same period last year.

The loss before tax was higher, at £20.7m, because a £3.7m tax credit reduced the net loss.

Hardy’s results were hit by the large number of natural catastrophes in the first half of the year, including the Australian floods and the New Zealand and Japan earthquakes.

The company was hit harder than some of its peers, it argues, because the bulk of the catastrophes were outside the US, and Hardy’s focus is more international than most Lloyd’s companies.

“The last 18 months have been extremely challenging. In common with the wider market, Hardy has incurred large losses,” Hardy chief executive Barbara Merry said in a statement.

However, she was positive about the company’s future. “The overall development of the business, with the aim of achieving a larger, well diversified short tail portfolio with above average long run returns remains on track,” she said. “We have strengthened all areas of the business, and will continue to add to the team, building on our strong brand and reputation, in lines of business where we are able to attract first class underwriters.”

Hardy has hired former Zurich director Ian Parker as its chief operating officer. He was previously chief executive of direct and partnership European general insurance at Zurich.

Hardy’s combined ratio increased 17 percentage points to 119% (H1 2010: 102%). Natural catastrophes added 30 points to the combined ratio.

Gross written premiums increased 7% to £167.3m (£155.9m).

Hardy put through rate increases of 4.1% across its portfolio. A 7.8% increase in property treaty rates and a 4.5% increase in non-marine property prices were offset by a 0.3% reduction in marine and aviation rates and a 0.9% cut in specialty rates.

Hardy H1 2011 results in £m (compared with H1 2010)

  • Gross premium written: 167.3 (155.9)
  • Underwriting loss: 19.8 (2.7)
  • Investment income: 2.7 (1.6)
  • Result before tax: -20.7 (+0.8)
  • Result after tax: 17.1 (2)
  • Combined ratio: 119% (102%)