The coronavirus pandemic pushed Lloyd's of London to a £900m pre-tax loss in 2020, compared with a £2.5 billion profit in 2019, the commercial insurance market said today. 

The 330-year old market, home to around 100 syndicate members, expects to pay out £3.4 billion in 2020 Covid-19 claims net of reinsurance, it said in a statement. 

Lloyd's CEO John Neal said 2020 had been "an extremely challenging year marked by a global health crisis of a scale never seen before". 

"The year was also marked by a high frequency of natural catastrophe claims and the UK's formal exit from the EU, driving further losses and uncertainty," he added. 

Gross written premiums declined by 1.2% to £35.5 billion in the specialist insurance market - which covers everything from oil rigs to footballers' legs - after Lloyd's scaled back some loss-making business lines last year. 

But Lloyd's said premium rates had risen 10.8% last year and rate rises had continued into 2021. Insurers typically increase rates after experiencing large losses.