The Lloyd's of London insurance market crashed to its second-biggest ever annual loss last year after absorbing claims from major natural catastrophes including Japan's Tohoku earthquake and heavy floods in Thailand.

Lloyd's, which traces its origins back 324 years to a London coffee house where merchants insured ships, made a loss of 516 million pounds ($823.90 million) in 2011, it said on Wednesday, compared with a 2.2 billion pound profit the previous year.

The loss, reflecting the aggregate financial performance of the 80 competing insurance syndicates that make up the Lloyd's market, is second only to the 3.11 billion pound deficit it reported for 2001 following the September 11 attacks.

Make no mistake, 2011 was a difficult year for the insurance industry, Lloyd's Chief Executive Richard Ward said in a statement.

Given the scale of the claims, a loss is unsurprising.

Last year was the second most expensive catastrophe year ever for the insurance industry, with total disaster-related claims of $107 billion, according to insurance broker Aon Benfield.

(Reporting by Myles Neligan; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)