As the new century dawned, so did a new international event. In the centre of the world's leading reinsurance market, the City of London, the Association of Run-off Companies (ARC) held its first annual commutation congress last year.
The year 2000 event was held at the London Underwriting Centre and attracted several sponsors, enabling ARC – a not-for-profit trade association for discontinued underwriting operations in the London insurance market – to purchase all the relevant services necessary to hold this event.
Last year's event attracted over 540 delegates and 26 booth holders. This unprecedented success has meant a move in venue, and the 2001 event will be held in Gibson Hall in Bishopsgate. This year – as last – the Congress is a one day event, though unlike the 2000 congress, delegates will be charged a nominal fee of £25 for access to the 40 booths. Charging delegates has enabled the organisers to promote the event much more than previously, attracting more people to the congress. The main hall at the site will contain all the booths, mainly occupied by experienced commutations people, with an adjacent informal meeting area. The ARC website carries a list of the delegates, enabling booth holders and congress attendees alike to set up meetings in advance.
Unlike more traditional re/insurance symposia, there are no speeches, presentations or formal talks. When canvassed on the matter, ARC members gave a very clear ‘thumbs down' to this type of arrangement and so the whole day is arranged purely and simply for individual companies to meet and discuss commutations. The only exceptions to this will be the availability of Equitas representatives to talk about their progress in the area of major pool commutations and representatives from information technology (IT) provider Michaelhouse to show and discuss the use of SLIP, an IT system that performs all operations for the insurance company in run-off.
ARC was set up three years ago to act as a focal point for the run-off market and to address its varying needs. As well as organising the congress, ARC is a great supporter of both the Norwich, England and Philadelphia, US commutation meetings, and has scheduled the congress to slot between these two more established gatherings.
A voluntary group that works along with interested specialists to look at and improve the understanding of run-off in the London market, ARC has extended its sights from London Processing Centre (LPC) run-off membership to all areas impacting its members. Most recently, the association has been involved in proposing a variation on the Financial Services Authority (FSA) return for companies with discontinued business. This project has the potential to reduce significantly the time spent producing statistics and trawling through old records.
So far, the ARC membership has not risen to the call wholeheartedly, perhaps because of the work involved in the completing the ARC questionnaire in the subject, which can be viewed on the association's website. Nevertheless, with two or three years remaining before Brussels takes over regulation of the UK insurance market, the working party intends to persevere in pursuing run-off companies' interests while the opportunity remains.
In the spirit of the cyberage, ARC maintains a virtual office with no full-time staff, though it does have a contract administrator. Having such minimal resources does make it difficult to spread the name of the association and raise awareness of its purpose, though the prospect of higher fees as a trade-off for a higher profile has deterred the executive committee from promoting the organisation – perhaps the nature of the run-off beast. Currently, the membership stands at 66, a number the congress organisers hope will be increased by the end of the event.
As an added bonus for this year's event, the congress organisers are planning to unveil the revised edition of the Commutation Manual, which is available free of charge to ARC members and at a cost of £20 for non-members.
Finally, the congress organisers are grateful to the sponsors, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Michaelhouse, Clyde & Co, JTW News and Global Reinsurance for their support again this year and hope that they and our delegates have a successful day. Leslie-Ann Giovnilli is a director of AMS Ltd and secretary of ARC. Further information about ARC is available on its website, www.aroc.org.uk