IQ Winter 2019

Despite this being the Winter issue of Insider Quarterly it feels altogether too early to be striking a Christmas, let alone a New Year, note.

However, while the bells won’t be ringing out for Christmas Day any time soon, the pending conclusion of another year in the (re)insurance sector will herald a ringing of the changes in some quarters.

The biggest of these, for participants at Lloyd’s of London, is undoubtedly the announcement of John Neal’s Blueprint One plan for the market.

In outline at least, the proposals for Lloyd’s promise to be as transformative for the market as the now-legendary Reconstruction and Renewal plan of the mid-1990s, implemented by then chairman Sir David Rowland and CEO Peter Middleton.

Having addressed the thorny issue of unprofitable underwriting, via performance management director Jon Hancock’s brutal cull of Decile 10 business last year, Lloyd’s has turned its sights in 2019 on one of the other major criticisms of the market – the excessively high cost of conducting business.

Starting next year, Neal and Co are aiming to bring the expense ratio of Lloyd’s syndicates below the average of nearly 40 percent to nearer 30 percent – with a longer-term goal of 25 percent.

While as Christmas presents these are more akin to receiving a sensible jumper, or perhaps an exercise bike, they are likely to be the cause of New Year celebrations for many.

Business plan submissions for 2020 indicate that many syndicates are aiming to expand the volume of business they write next year. And the Lloyd’s syndicate in a box initiative has had more applicants than a Boxing Day queue for the Harrods sale.

However, Lloyd’s, the London (re)insurance market and the global industry have more to do next year than just promising to be leaner, fitter and more goal-oriented.

Let’s not forget the gender pay gap. The continuing lack of diversity. The bullying, sexual and racial discrimination, and sexual assault. The persistent and excessive lunchtime drinking culture.

As at least one commentator has noted within these pages, while well-established and laudable diversity and inclusion initiatives have been underway in the market for some time, there is an extent to which many companies and individuals are simply paying lip service to the ideals expressed and doing little in reality to effect real change.

It is hoped that the run of high-profile stories about shocking behaviour in the industry in recent months will shame more senior executives into reforming the cultures over which they preside.

And then there is climate change. A constant topic of international news, the subject of widespread protest and now frantic electioneering, the issue is now very much on the (re)insurance industry’s agenda.

It’s not simply the hefty losses on carriers’ balance sheets this year stemming from natural catastrophes which appear to be linked to climate change. It is also the subject of robust debate about how to model, price and mitigate against the insurable losses that result from such events.

2020 might not be the year when all your wishes come true – but it promises to be an interesting one for this industry!

To read the Winter 2019 issue of Insider Quarterly, please click here.

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