Ever since ship owners first started meeting at Edward Lloyd’s coffee house over 300 years ago, insurance in London, particularly Lloyd’s, has been conducted on a face-to-face basis. In truth, this has provided London underwriters and brokers a distinct advantage. No matter the size or complexity of a deal, face-to-face negotiations have always proved more fruitful.
In 2016, the London market launched an electronic platform called Placing Platform Limited (PPL). PPL is a not-for-profit company setup to create a single market solution for electronic placing that would allow brokers and insurers to quote, negotiate and bind business electronically. Since the first risk was bound on PPL in June 2016, the platform has expanded to cover almost all classes of risks placed in the Lloyd’s market, and is used by around 160 carriers and 165 broker firms. The PPL system was working well, which before the arrival of COVID-19, was to account for 80% of all transactions to be bound through PPL by the end of 2020.
This all changed during the week commencing March 16, 2020, when the world changed as a result of the increasing threat posed by the coronavirus. Various brokers and underwriters had, in the buildup to this week, been testing their respective disaster planning systems and started to put them into effect. Lloyd’s then closed the trading floor at 16:00 hours on Thursday, March 19, 2020. All of sudden we were all working from home and getting used to a whole new world, and London had to find a way to make it work.
As we approach the end of May 2020, the video capability of applications such WhatsApp, MS Teams and Zoom has, for the most part, replaced face-to-face meetings but allowed virtual meetings to continue and, in most cases, without a blip. From a broking perspective, everyone has had to learn new skills such as reading people and situations over video and managing larger groups of contributors on such calls. Likewise, the technical backup side is working with respective file sharing capabilities. There will always be occasional glitches but overall it is working!
Will this new technological era in London work long-term? One thing is for sure - we would not have gotten to this position if we had tried to plan for it, but now that we are here, we need to take the opportunity to move towards a new, and better, way of doing business.
If you or your company have questions or concerns regarding PPL or London’s technology changes, you should speak with a professional right away. AssuredPartners Transportation has London professionals who assist clients with all types of needs to ensure you are receiving the best service possible. To learn more, reach out to the AssuredPartners Transportation specialists.