As part of my Survey of International Business Issues and th City of London, my class and I get to visit a firm every week and learn more about it directly from the employees and executives of the company. This past week we visited Lloyd’s of London on Lime Street. Lloyds is an insurance marketplace, a place where brokers and underwriters can meet to discuss insurances needed by the clients. Not everyone can enter the Lloyd’s of building, therefore a client would have to speak to its broker about what they need to get insured before the approved Lloyd’s broker can enter the building in London to find the best underwriters. Although a marketplace for insurances, Lloyd’s is not considered an insurance company itself, rather it regulates the market and ensures it is running efficiently and under the correct rules and regulations. Lloyd’s has a committee of people in charge of approving the brokers and companies that can buy a place to be in the marketplace. Inside this building, broker Willis Faber & Co insured the famous Titanic boat and its sister ship. On the slip, many underwriters at Lloyd’s put their name down to insure the boat. This tragedy was one of the market’s biggest loss, but insurers were able to pay the claims in full within one month.
Last wednesday, through this class, we were able to enter the Lloyd’s of London building where we were given a guided tour and an explanation of the history of Lloyds. We started on the ground floor where each insurance company had its box and brokers would come and meet the writers there. A box is a name coming from when the marketplace first started where brokers and underwriters would meet in “boxes” at a coffee shop owned by Edward Lloyd, a place that used to be popular to get maritime insurances. For an insurance company to get a place inside the building it must pay Lloyd’s to acquire a box, with prices varying depending on the sizes and numbers of boxes.
The building has several floors with different companies and sectors of companies installed on different floors. Therefore, most brokers start on the ground floor and make their way up as they need more underwriters. We stood in the middle of the room as our guide, a previous broker, explained to us the different parts of the room and their importances. We then went upstairs to visit the meeting room, which was a room that had been moved three times from three different locations that was used to conduct formal meetings for the council to meet and discuss any new companies or brokers entering the building. We were also given an explanation on the unique architecture of the building which is similar to the Pampidou Centre with its pipelines and structures exposed outside of the building.
Overall, it was extremely interesting to stand in the building that insured so many famous ships, celebrities’ body parts and other completely out of the ordinary things that cannot be insured elsewhere. It was a great experience and allowed us to learn more about a marketplace that I was not familiar that can insure almost anything we can think of.