Direct Line battered by £40m claims bill from February storms  

Direct Line battered by £40m bill from February storms: Insurer says it has now helped with 10,000 claims

Direct Line has revealed a claims bill of up to £40million from the storms last month that battered the UK.

The insurer said it had helped more than 10,000 customers with claims after storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin caused havoc last month.

Direct Line said its early estimate sees claims reaching between £30million and £40million for storm damage. 

Storm force: A tree which fell onto a car in Ealing, West London during Storm Dudley on February 17, 2022. Insurer DirectLine says it has responded to 10,000 claims 

Over 1m homes were left without power in the immediate aftermath. The storms also caused widespread damage and travel chaos on roads and railways as trees were brought down.

The details of the storm impact came as Direct Line reported a 1.2 per cent drop in pre-tax profits to £446million for 2021 as it said it faced a ‘challenging market, impacted by the pandemic’.

Direct Line said operating profits lifted 11.4 per cent to £581.8million last year. It added that it was ‘deeply saddened and shocked by the conflict in Ukraine’, but confirmed it has no direct investment exposure to Russia or Ukraine across its fund portfolios.

Direct Line unveiled a 15.1p a share final dividend and a £100 million share buyback programme. 

The group said its combined operating ratio – a measure of underwriting profitability – improved to 90.1 per cent in 2021 and confirmed its target for 93 per cent to 95 per cent in 2022 and going forward.

A ratio below 100 per cent indicates profitable underwriting.

Analysts at Jefferies said the ‘new £100million buyback programme and confirmation of targets sends out a confident message’.