All claims to be transacted electronically in 2007

Lloyd's chief executive Richard Ward has threatened to introduce mandatory electronic claims transactions if the market does not achieve its goal by the end of 2007.

In his first challenge to the market since taking office, Ward insisted that all claims must be transacted electronically in 2007 using the Electronic Claims Files (ECF) Repository.

Despite a recent delay in finalising the ECF project due to complications over the legal framework, Ward was adamant that the initiative together with the accounting and settlement project was an essential part in trying to achieve a paperless market.

Consequently Lloyd's would "take any action necessary to address that", he warned.

The powerful message has been applauded by the group of managing agents, which have been driving forward electronic change in the market for more than 12 months.

Chairman of G6 and chief operating officer at Hiscox, Sue Langley, told Insurance Times: "I think if this market is to improve its efficiency, it is essential to move ahead on things like electronic claims and I'm really encouraged that Lloyd's is taking a strong stance."

The no-nonsense attitude was also welcomed by Aon, which recently issued its own challenge to the Lloyd's market to "improve [processing claims electronically] in two to three months and not two to three years".

But, Ian Summers, director of change strategy at Aon, emphasised that the scope of the ECF project had to increase so by the end of next year all advice, including legacy claims, had been dealt within the market.

JMD chief executive John Dewen said: "It is a bold statement and I hope it is successful. This is a real challenge to test the determination of the Lloyd's market to change and keep its global status.

"But change is not always embraced with open arms," he added.

Richard Ward's warning came as he set out his aims for the Lloyd's market, six months after taking charge as chief executive.

Inefficient business processes and lack of transparency and competition were the biggest challenges facing the market, according to Ward.