Market experts say collaborative effort in face of Covid-19 has been “inspiring”

The extent to which staff in the London market have pulled together to keep the marine insurance sector functioning, both within organizations and externally, has been “phenomenal”, according to panel members speaking at last week’s Webinar entitled “Covid-19: Long-term change in the London Market?” put on by Cannon Events in association with Concirrus.

Marcus Baker: Global Head of Marine and Cargo Marsh JLT Specialty, said that “the huge increase in collaborative effort that we’ve seen has been phenomenal. The sheer human effort has been amazing and I have no doubt that this is going to continue”.

Baker felt that the isolation had helped Marsh JLT realize that the “colleague base” could work from home both successfully and efficiently. “So perhaps now more than ever I think that our employee engagement and welfare, which are fundamental to the success of the business, are becoming increasingly important.”

Phil Graham, Head of Marine, Chaucer Syndicates, said that the speed of change that the industry had undergone in two to three weeks – from a face-to-face organization trading within a Lloyd’s or company environment – to go through a very busy April renewal season effectively on a virtual basis, and on a transactional level to keep clients and insurer satisfied that proper negotiations have taken place, was a superb achievement.

“And some thanks is due to Lloyd’s as well, for driving through those digital platform changes in 2019. I think that the brokers and underwriters who have embraced that have come out of this much stronger and in a better position. We’ll look to see if that will evolve over the next three to six months”, said Graham

Nick Shaw, CEO of the International Group of P&I Clubs, said that the Group Clubs had been ” very happy that it’s been business as usual”, with only minor operational issues. Virtual meetings, for example in sub-committees, had been easier to call at short notice, because ravel arrangements did not need to be made. “We’ve been able to move some of our committee work forward at a faster pace than we would have done in normal circumstances.”

However, there have been drawbacks. All the panel members accepted that the lack of personal contact had been noticed. The informal side of training opportunities – such as mentoring – had not yet been replaced.

Andrew Yeoman, Concirrus CEO, said that he had been impressed by the speed of change in response to the pandemic. ” As a technology company we’ve been in the market for some time advocating the use of more technology. Sometimes we’ve met with resistance and sometimes we’ve been outright rejected in our assertions that the industry might change. What’s been fascinating to see from our perspective is that some of the changes that we anticipated taking years or months happened in days and weeks,” Yeoman said.