’It is important that people are focused on what is happening [in the market] outside of their day job,’ says chief underwriting officer

Following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic from March 2020, the vast majority of those working in the insurance market were forced to remain at home for nearly two years.

Even though the majority of strict pandemic restrictions were lifted in the UK from March 2022, many London market participants have maintained a flexible working structure that includes homeworking – however, Markel International’s chief underwriting officer, Nick Line, believes the industry “does not come in [to offices] enough”.

Because of this, he believes that individuals are missing out on building their network – both internally within companies and with external contacts in the insurance market.

He explained: “I get a lot of people asking me about career development. It is important that people are focused on what is happening [in the market] outside of their day job.

“We are flexible [in terms of offering hybrid working], but we will help push people to be able to build relationships and networking face-to-face.”

For Line, a black book of relevant contacts is vital – for example, if a broker encounters a problem, then this can often be solved by tapping into networks and relationships that have been cemented through face-to-face conversations.

Underwriting room

Line’s comments come after Lloyd’s of London closed its underwriting room for two months in the summer of 2023 to carry out renovations.

Prior to the closure at the start of last July, the London and International Insurance Brokers’ Association (Liiba) claimed that underwriters had reduced their time in the underwriting room to only Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings.

Published in a report in June 2023, the association stated that the willingness of underwriters to trade from the underwriting room had become a “point of contention for young brokers”.

Lloyd’s told Insurance Times that face-to-face, relationship-based trading “remains integral to the London market”.

The room reopened on 18 September 2023 for face-to-face trading, with Lloyd’s welcoming 13 additional managing agents to the ground floor.