Insurer FBD says 2014 was the worst year for weather-related claims in its history. The company has just reported its annual results which show it made a pre-tax loss of €4.5m compared to a €51.5m profit in 2013. FBD incurred net claims worth €261m last year up almost 30% year-on-year. Storm damage-related claims from February last year alone cost it €15.2m with 9,000 of its customers directly affected by Storm Darwin. 

Andrew Langford, FBD's chief executive, says the insurer's weather related claims seen in the first half of last year were the worst in FBD's history but they were also the worst since records began about 150 years ago. Mr Langford says that about 9,000 FBD customers bore the brunt of the claims, adding that the very extreme weather hit the areas in which FBD is strongest. This gave rise to claims of just over €44m, but on the positive side, Mr Langford says that FBD was "very proud" of how it supported and delivered for its customers. "This is the business that we are in, this is why we are here, this is why people take out insurance and this is why customers choose insurers like FBD," he states.

Because of the nature of risks which FBD insure, which tend to be more rural, weather related issues affect the company more, Mr Langford explains. But he says the big feature of last year was a sharp increase in claims costs and the vast bulk of these was very much a market issue. At an industry level in general, customers are having more accidents and more claims as the economy has turned more sharply than expected and these claims are costing more. 

On premiums, Mr Langford that they are ultimately decided by claims experience and when costs go up, premiums have to follow. Because insurance operates very much on the basis of a pool risk, when claims rise - and especially when they rise as sharply as they have done - premiums will have to go up for all customers to some degree. He predicts that at this stage, premiums will rise by about 5-6% this year with higher increases for motor premiums.

MORNING BRIEFS - Dublin hotel room rates are heading back towards 2007 levels, according to a report by consultants PwC. Dublin experienced the second fastest growth in a metric known as revenue per available room, literally the amount of revenue a hotel generates each year for each of its rooms. The average daily rate for a hotel room in the capital was €95 last year and PwC says this still represents good value compared to other EU capitals. Paris tops the table at €206 a night.

*** Activity in the Irish manufacturing sector in February expanded at the fastest monthly pace since May 1998. The Investec Purchasing Mangers Index, a monthly report measuring activity and sentiment, shows both strong domestic and overseas demand. The rate at which new jobs in the sector are being added was the highest in the 17 year history of the index.

*** Rebekah Brooks, the former head of Rupert Murdoch's British media subsidiary, looks set to return to his News Corporation in a new role. It is reported Ms Brooks, who was acquitted of four charges related to phone hacking last summer, will work primarily with News Corp's digital and social media division including Storyful the Irish company founded by former RTE journalist Mark Little which was acquired by News Corp in 2013.

*** Kerry-based Fexco is to open 15 new outlets in the UK this year. Fexco bought No 1 Currency, a network of bureaux de changes, in 2012 and added to its footprint by acquiring another business Intercash. The 15 new outlets to be opened this year will bring the chain's total to 56.