Business: Fabled Lloyd's Takes a Bath

Cleaned out by computers and a honey-tongued Texan

For Lloyd's of London, risk has always meant opportunity. The celebrated market of hundreds of risk-sharing insurance syndicates prides itself on being the first to offer coverage on the new, the colossal, the bizarre. But as technology grows ever more complex, the risks keep rising, and each year the amounts that Lloyd's underwriters pay out on litigious losses, from oil tanker disasters to Mafia-set arson jobs, keep swelling. Yet this year is one that even Lloyd's risk-hardened underwriters are not likely to forget.

First there was the crash in May of the American Airlines DC-10...

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