Wednesday 31 March 2021 7:43 pm

Lloyd’s of London chairman teases ‘exciting’ plans for famous underwriting room

Staff at Lloyd’s of London could see more flexibility introduced into their working week post-pandemic, but the iconic underwriting room will remain a core part of the London’s insurance industry, according to the chairman of the insurance marketplace.

The insurance marketplace will open its underwriting room on 17 May, in line with the government easing Covid-19 restrictions.

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The room has been made secure, and digital interaction systems have been introduced so people can be both physically in the office and access the underwriting room remotely.

Speaking to City A.M. this morning, chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown teased “exciting” plans to develop the Lloyd’s famous underwriting room, following a consultation with market participants.

“We’ve got some quite exciting plans that we want to develop but we’re not yet ready to disclose them. But they’re exciting plans to both incorporate more flexible ways of working in the marketplace, but also as a way of continuing to make the market a centre for global insurance in London.

“I think there will be meaningful changes to the way the room is set up in due course.”

Read more: Lloyd’s of London plans to reopen underwriting room from 17 May

Lloyd’s staff could also see changes to their working attire – should they consider what they are wearing as ‘appropriate dress’ for the workplace.

Last week the London & International Insurance Brokers Association (LIIBA), a group that represents brokers at Lloyd’s of London, called for changes at the centuries-old institution, including changes to the “stuffy” dress code.

Carnegie-Brown described the dress issue as “a bit of a red herring,” adding: “We don’t have a dress code that requires a suit and tie, we only have a dress code that requires appropriate dress and that has traditionally been a suit and tie for people, so it will be interesting to see where the pandemic changes people’s ideas of what appropriate is – but I’m not anticipating people rushing back in in flip flops.”

£900m loss

Lloyd’s of London this morning posted a £900m loss for its 2020 financial year, including net incurred Covid-19 losses of £3.4bn after reinsurance recoveries.

The insurance market has forecast customer pay outs for Covid-19 will reach £6.2bn on a gross basis, with Covid-19 claims adding 13.3 per cent to the market’s combined ratio of 110.3 per cent.

On top of Covid-19 claims, said the chairman, Lloyd’s also paid out more than £1bn in natural catastrophe event claims.

Excluding Covid-19 losses, the market delivered an underwriting profit of £0.8bn. The insurance marketplace recorded gross written premiums for the year of £35.5bn, down just slightly from £35.9bn in 2019.

Net resources increased by nearly 11 per cent to £33.9bn, which Lloyd’s said demonstrated the strength of its balance sheet, with a central solvency ratio of 209 per cent.

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Lloyd’s CEO John Neal added: “Following an extremely challenging year marked by a global health crisis of a scale never seen before, Lloyd’s continued to support its customers with pay outs expected to total £6.2bn in Covid-19.

“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.

“Against this unprecedented backdrop we have made good progress across our performance, digitisation, and culture transformation plans. Our disciplined underwriting approach and determination to become the world’s most advanced insurance marketplace have set us up for real success this year alongside the continue positive rate momentum that will see the market supporting growth for the first time in four years.”