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Disasters hammer Baldwin & Lyons—again

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Baldwin & Lyons Inc. stands to lose $15.5 million as a result of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, as well as other disasters in Australia and New Zealand.

That preliminary estimate, which includes tax impacts and reinsurance coverage, would put Baldwin & Lyons on course for another tough year of catastrophic losses.

The Indianapolis-based insurer of trucking and auto fleets suffered $24 million in catastrophic losses in 2010, mainly related to the February 2010 earthquake in Chile, as well as windstorms in Australia and Europe.

Those costs helped send the company’s full-year profit tumbling 44 percent compared with the previous year, to $25 million. Baldwin had revenue last year of nearly $250 million.

This year, Baldwin estimates it will lose $8.7 million in the first quarter from the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Sendai, Japan, which killed thousands and sparked a nuclear scare at a power plant.

Baldwin is also suffering from losses incurred after an earthquake hit Christchurch, New Zealand, in February. It estimates those losses at $5.3 million. And the company expects to lose $1.5 million from January floods in Australia as well as Cyclone Yasi, which hit Australia in February.

In a statement, Baldwin cautioned that its estimates are based on its discussions with its reinsurance companies and client brokers, and rely heavily on modeling. The actual losses could turn out to be different from the estimates.

Baldwin will report its first quarter financial results May 5.

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