It will be making use of video calling as well as establishing a virtual room where brokers and underwriters can connect according to Lloyd’s boss John Neal

Lloyd’s of London has started mapping out a plan for its “new-look environment” in time for a September re-opening.

Changes that Lloyd’s staff will face when they return to their offices include clear screens on underwriting boxes, temperature check thermal cameras and a click and collect takeaway catering service, reported Reuters.

In March, Lloyd’s shut its underwriting room in response to the coronavirus pandemic; this was the first closure of physical trading in the commercial insurance market’s 330-year history. The occasion was marked by the ringing of its Lutine Bell.

Staff capacity upon re-opening will shrink to 45% to ensure social distancing. There will also be regular deep cleans, queuing and one-way systems to mitigate and limit the spread of coronavirus, said Lloyd’s chief executive John Neal.

Virtual room

After starting life in Edward Lloyd’s coffee house in 1688, Lloyd’s has remained a face-to-face market, however it is now charging ahead to switch to electronic placing.

Lloyd’s plans to establish a “virtual room” and is testing a number of digital platforms to allow brokers and underwriters to connect, Neal added.

There will be a help desk or connectivity bar on the ground floor, digital booths with souped-up WiFi and digital screens in the café and other areas for confidential meetings. Network connectivity has also been enhanced.

Since its closure, Lloyd’s has been using video calls instead of flying to locations such as North America - its biggest market.

Digital success

Figures from PPL – an existing electronic trading platform which will form the basis for one of two electronic exchanges Lloyd’s plans to launch next year - showed that the number of deals completed nearly doubled in the week ending 8 June, compared with four months earlier, rising to 3,040. 

Lloyd’s has over 90 syndicate members and separately run firms under the market’s umbrella and it underwrites many of the world’s largest commercial insurance deals.

Brokers and insurers have long met in the underwriting room of Lloyd’s City of London tower to agree deals, which are sealed with company stamps and ink signatures.

But since its closure, industry players have been surprised at how smoothly technology has worked instead of this traditional system.

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