The London market needs to respond to global competition pressures quickly, says Graham Wright

The London insurance market is the oldest and best known in the world. It boasts some of the strongest underwriting capabilities, unique capital and regulatory efficiencies, and an impressive track record of product innovation.

But the market is now under increasing pressure from global competition. It needs to respond quickly to address some of the process, service and efficiency issues which, in this context, are becoming more critical than ever.

The London Market is implementing a wave of reforms to improve its cost efficiency, customer service and competitive position. A key element in this is the introduction of electronic data transfer between market participants to replace the traditional costly and inefficient paper-based operations. At Lloyd’s in particular, this has become a market mission following past attempts and failures.

Polaris’ imarket platform is an example of this reform. This is the system which supports electronic data transfer in the UK commercial market. It has been running successfully for four years now, covering a dozen insurers and approaching 3,000 brokers.

“The London market needs to respond quickly to address some of the process, service and efficiency issues which are becoming more critical than ever

Graham Wright Insurance leader, IBM Global Business Services

The Insurer Messaging Network for the London Market is a messaging service, built on imarket and designed to provide London market players with a cost effective and efficient way of exchanging transactional data.

Currently insurers and brokers exchange information largely by paper, supported by fax and by email, but data from these require re-keying, which is costly and prone to human error.

A group of London’s largest insurers, known as the G6, introduced direct peer-to-peer communications between themselves and a few brokers in 2006, but many others would rather not have to do this for themselves.

A managed service, built on a service oriented architecture in order to ensure flexibility, is the most cost-effective and efficient way to provide the necessary connectivity for all parties in the London market. The new service will allow insurers and brokers to exchange ACORD-compliant messages as currently being used by the G6.