LONDON (Reuters) - Lloyd’s of London is launching a matching site to make it easier for its brokers and insurers to find one another, as Britain’s commercial insurance market seeks to embrace technology and cut costs.
Lloyd’s Bridge will enable Lloyd’s cover-holders - brokers or other insurance firms around the world allowed to offer Lloyd’s insurance - to go online to seek insurance from the 80-plus syndicates operating in the Lloyd’s market.
The syndicates can also use the site to find cover-holders to sell their policies.
The site will operate in a similar way to Airbnb or dating websites and will enable Lloyd’s syndicates to cut distribution costs, Lloyd’s Chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown told Reuters by phone.
“At the moment, the distribution chain can be quite extended - that imposes costs and inefficiency on the way we do things,” he said, adding that the site was “a way for us to reach small, more regional, brokers and underwriters in international markets”.
Lloyd’s, which started life in Edward Lloyd’s coffee house in 1688, has a face-to-face market in the City of London for the insurance of complex risks.
It is looking for ways to become more efficient after suffering a 2 billion pound ($2.7 billion) loss last year.
It is also moving to electronic processing of trades, setting up Lloyd’s Lab to encourage insurtech and pushing syndicates to exit loss-making businesses.
“We have a number of syndicates... that have lost money consistently over the last few years - we are asking them to be more aggressive about restructuring this business,” Carnegie-Brown said.
Lloyd’s is also in the process of hiring a new chief executive, after announcing last week that Inga Beale will step down.
Carnegie-Brown said he hoped to hire someone with international and previous CEO experience and insurance knowledge, who was “capable of continuing the transformation we’ve got going”.
Lloyd’s Bridge will pilot in Britain, Australia and New Zealand from Wednesday, ahead of a full launch in 2019, Lloyd’s said in a statement.
In Europe, Lloyd’s is focusing on preparing for Brexit through its Brussels subsidiary, Carnegie-Brown said.
It has a six-strong executive team in place and has hired 12-15 of the 40 staff it needs to start underwriting business on Jan. 1, he added.
Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; Editing by Susan Fenton