A day in the life of: A Lloyd’s Underwriter – A Great Day

Lloyd’s is the leading market for specialist insurance and the epicentre of the global insurance industry. It’s where insurance started back in 1688 as Edward Lloyd’s coffee house and has since grown into a bastion of modern day insurance with the iconic London address, One Lime Street, designed by Lord Rogers.

But what is it like to work there? Gone are the days described by Stephen Gray in his book Bad Boy, but here to stay is the school boy banter and community that can only come with a market place like Lloyd’s.

But like any job, there are good days and bad days – and in Lloyd’s a good day is a great day and a bad day is the worst day.

Here’s what a good day looks like:

8:00AM – You’re up and out of bed to be greeted with your daily bowl of Cheerios and cup of tea in front of Bill Turnball on the Breakfast show. Quick shower, iron the shirt and into work for 9.

9:00AM – You get into your Mincing Lane office, which you’ve been taking banter from your mates about for the 2 years you’ve been working there. Some things apparently never get old. Turn the box on, chat to a couple of colleagues about their apparent new found desire to go running in the mornings and grab your second cup of tea of the day.

9:30AM – 11AM – A couple of small renewal submissions are found in your inbox, which need looking at before you head to Lloyd’s. You look through them, ring the broker up with your questions and ask him to come to Lloyd’s before lunch to go through any changes with you.

Before you hang up the broker starts the heckling about your team losing the night before, but before you have time for any retort, he turns the subject around and tells you there’s a new piece of business he wants you to look at. Now you know he’s had something big in the pipeline for a while, but to date you’ve not been able to get even the smallest inkling of what it is.

You arrange for him to come to your Lloyd’s box just before 1 so you can go straight on to lunch with him after the bell has rung to mark the end of Lloyd’s’ morning session.

You go back to your submissions, having to run one of them past the senior underwriter for sign off as you don’t have authority. They’re as good as risk to underwriter as they were last year and you’ll be happy to re-quote them. But you have to wait and see what the broker wants to do about price.

11AM – 11:30AM – With your Senior Underwriter, you wander across from Mincing Lane to Lloyd’s of London via Starbucks for your mid morning coffee. You tell him about the conversation you had with your broker that morning, invite him to your broker lunch and tell him what business you suspect it is. You get a pat on the back for getting a new business meeting and your Latte is on him.

You arrive at your company’s Lloyd’s box and set up, turn on your box and prepare for the broker meetings you set up the previous day.

11:30AM – 1PM – On the dot of 11.30, your first broker comes to visit, piled high with renewal submissions. You’re an Energy Underwriter and specialise in offshore oil platforms. Thankfully there are only 2 submissions for you. There are a couple of problems with one of them, so you take it off him to look into it further at the office, but the other submission is straightforward so you put your stamp on it and accept the risk.  Same price as last year – it hasn’t had a claim, so you’re happy with that.

The broker you were talking to in the office shows up at 12.45 – just enough time to go through the submissions you were looking at that morning before heading to lunch. The broker wants 10% off the price for both of them, otherwise he said he’s going to have to market them. You turn around and chat it through with your Senior Underwriter, then go back to the negotiating table.

The markets softening and you know that. Prices are becoming untenable and the cover is increasing – times are hard for Underwriters, prices are South and you have to go with them otherwise brokers will find their business another home.

After the back and forth, you put the decision off until after lunch. You’ll see what he has for you at lunch before any price reductions are set. The broker agrees, knowing he has something special up his sleeve.

1PM – 2:30PM – The bell rings to end the market session and you follow the mass exodus out of Lloyd’s and filter into a local restaurant for lunch. The broker’s manager meets us there to make us a four.

A pint down and the brokers order wine. It comes out and we get down to business. They are an attacking broker on a piece of business worth £10m in premium and they want us to be lead underwriter. They recommend us taking a 10% line, which would mean £850,000 in premium for us (£1m minus their 15% commission).

They know they’re going to win it and it’s going to come over, only they need to guarantee their client they have a market leading underwriter as a lead underwriter.

You’ve been chasing this particular business for 2 years, but haven’t been able to write it. Now it’s with a friendly broker, you have a chance. Great news.

The brokers tactically go to the toilet to let you and the Senior Underwriter discuss it. A resounding “Yes” is the answer, and he says you can lead cover negotiations. Amazing.

The talk moves to that weekend’s sport.

2:30PM – 4:00PM – Back at Lloyd’s you discuss cover details and risk management procedures, and of course price. It’s a strong price, so you have no qualms about covering 10% for a net premium of £850,000. However the broker tells you he knows the price is low.

This is an opportunity.

You tell your broker, you’ll be happy to do him a favour and write the new business at that price if he takes a commission reduction on the other two submissions. You are willing to meet him in the middle and split the price reduction. He agrees.

That’s a victory – a broker decreasing their commission. You celebrate internally – your boss will be ecstatic.

The broker suggests celebratory drinks after work – of course you oblige.

4:00PM – 4.15PM – You bounce back to your office.

4:15PM – 5:00PM – Back at Mincing Lane, you walk into your bosses office, pronouncing the good news. You receive your second pat on the back for the day and tell him about your celebratory beer plans.

He tells you you should “get to it then”, before walking me out of the office. You wander over to your Underwriting Assistant and ask him to enter the submissions onto the computer. He sighs, but the promise of you buying him a beer after he’s done wins him over.

As you walk out the office, the boss calls over, “don’t go too mad”. You know that’s his way of saying to have some fun on the company card. You smile back at him before turning and walking out to meet the broker at the designated bar.

5:00PM – 8:00PM – You meet your broker and his colleagues, some of your colleagues come to meet you after they finish and you stick around and celebrate the £850,000 new business win with back slaps and beers until 8.

Then off to dinner with the girlfriend to tell her the good news.

What a day in the office.

One Response to “A day in the life of: A Lloyd’s Underwriter – A Great Day”

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  1. Melissa says:

    Great post! I wonder if you could pen a post on what a bad day would look like? thanks
    ps think your website is great – it’s so refreshing to have some lively writing about the insurance industry.

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