Making lockdown work – views from the market: Simon Clegg

Writing thousands of risks a year gives you a different mindset to technology

Simon Clegg, non-marine property underwriter, Atrium Underwriters Ltd

 “It’s the law of big numbers” said Simon Clegg when discussing why he was an early adopter of PPL. “Our business – direct and facultative, writes a lot of individual policies. If you write as we do around 2,000 a year, as opposed to three a week, then you have a completely different mindset about  embracing technology that will generate efficiencies and create time for the value-added stuff”.

Since the market started to work remotely nearly two months ago, this philosophy has served Simon well. “A simple example is our calendar booking app to make online appointments, it removes so much to-ing and fro-ing. Anything that streamlines a process is to be embraced. My inbox fills at an alarming rate through the day, and it is easy to miss stuff – that does not happen with PPL. I have used the platform since it was first introduced and have been a critical friend since then always aiming to make it better. Credit where credit’s due – we could not have got through lockdown without it”.

But there are bumps in the road for certain bits of the market according to Simon. “Some people are struggling – personally and professionally, because they were just not prepared for this. Let’s face it, none of us predicted it but if you don’t have any experience of working remotely or using digital tools then the transition is going to be slower and harder”.

Simon does add that, even with a keen interest in digital solutions, he has had to think about some of the processes. “We make appointments with the brokers, both my assistant and I log on and we listen to the pitch on the phone– almost replicating face to face” he said. “But, 90% of what we quoted at the box we handwrote on slip and scanned before processing” he continued “so we have re-invented that step. Some things are taking longer than they do in the underwriting room – but we are managing and the more we improve tools like PPL, the better things will get”.

The problem as Simon sees it is dealing with business partners with whom you have less well-established relationships. “It is definitely a tougher conversation on the phone if you don’t know the brokers as well. And video does not really replace the ability to just chat informally. I am a trader and, for me, the buzz of people in the room is what I enjoy. If you told me this is what my job would be like full-time, forever, I would not be that enthusiastic. But I don’t think it will be forever we just need to get through it”.