Although the insurer’s chief executive thinks brokers benefit from communications on the trading floor, Beazley plans to deal with simpler risks virtually and reduce its physical presence at Lloyd’s

Insurer Beazley’s chief executive Andrew Horton has told the Evening Standard that the firm plans to reduce its physical presence at Lloyd’s of London due to the success of home working during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Beazley, which employs around 1,500 staff in total, typically had 80 employees working across 15 boxes on the Lloyd’s trading floor. Horton said this is set to change as the home working models implemented to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 have proved so successful.

He said: “Inevitably we will have a smaller presence at Lloyd’s and [the] Lloyd’s trading floor I think will be smaller.”

Despite this, Horton added that Beazley would still maintain a minimised presence at Lloyd’s to deal with more complex risks, but “at the simpler end of risks, people can work virtually very productively. There’s no need to meet one-to-one there”.

Beazley has already reopened its London office on Tower Street, however the capacity has been reduced from 700 staff to 100. Currently, around 20 employees are physically going into the office.

Broker benefits

Although working from home has, in the main, proved a positive experience, Horton added that not being able to access face-to-face meetings at Lloyd’s has caused some problems, leading the business to lose “some efficiency in parts of the business”.

Horton explained: “[Lloyd’s is] a very efficient market to do large syndicated risks. Brokers in a short period of time can go around 10 different areas of the market to get each of them taking a tenth of the risk; that’s quicker than setting up 10 Zoom or Teams talks.”

Furthermore, brokers are having to send “1,000-page documents by email”, which are undoubtedly difficult to wade through for time-pressed underwriters. Usually, brokers attending Lloyd’s would highlight key points within a policy document on paper or an iPad to show insurers in person, Horton added.

Despite these difficulties, Horton noted that trading through Lloyd’s is strong and that premiums are on the rise.

Lloyd’s revamp

Beazley won’t be the only business making changes post-pandemic; the Lloyd’s market itself also plans on adjusting its operations when it reopens on 1 September – Lloyd’s initially shut its doors back in March in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Based in Lime Street, the market usually hosts up to 5,000 insurance professionals, however on reopening, capacity will be reduced to 45% in order to maintain social distancing.

Other measures being undertaken include clear screens on underwriting boxes, deep cleaning every 30 days and voluntary temperature checks. Two entrances and exits to the building will be used, as well as one-way systems and queuing. Although escalators within the building will operate as normal, only two passengers will be able to use the lifts at any one time.

Lloyd’s told the Evening Standard that it was working on a rota to help manage capacity in its underwriting room; the market will also introduce booths for video calls and an IT helpdesk on the ground floor. It is also testing a new platform designed to connect brokers and underwriters.

The Evening Standard added that a more flexible working space, similar to WeWork offices, is also on the cards.

A Lloyd’s spokeswoman said: “Throughout lockdown, the Lloyd’s market has continued to trade efficiently using digital platforms now embedded across our marketplace.

“This momentum has created an amazing opportunity for Lloyd’s to accelerate the implementation of digital enhancements and technology, including creating a virtual room that will enable brokers and underwriters to connect and collaborate online, alongside the physical trading environment.

“Together with a virtual room, the ability to physically represent the customer’s interests and explain their needs is becoming more important. With firms considering downsizing their office space in the City, the more vital Lloyd’s will be as a space to meet, convene, and transfer risk.”

Lloyd’s will signal its reopening with the ringing of its historic Lutine Bell.