Building foundations for the future: a look inside Liberty Virtual Rooms


After years of debate, doubt and delay, the London Insurance Market transitioned to digital trading with remarkable ease. But what began as an essential response to a global emergency now looks set to transform the way we work for many years to come. Liberty Specialty Markets Head of of Customer Propositions Carol Baker examines the changes to working practices...

The London Market hosts a unique ecosystem of underwriters, brokers, loss adjusters, lawyers and modellers that rely on the strength of their network to deliver the best risk solutions for insureds.

During the first Covid-19 lockdown, that ecosystem worked long hours across every conceivable communications channel to keep the wheels turning. But very quickly it became apparent that without regular face-to-face broker meetings, or chance encounters in the Lloyd’s building, broking lounges or coffee shops, it would be challenging to maintain business as usual.

Welcome to the room

Responding to these challenges, in August 2020 we launched a pilot of Liberty Virtual Rooms, a platform that opens up Liberty employees’ diaries to the market, so insurance brokers and clients can schedule video appointments to speak to them. By November 2020, the platform has become core to the way we do business – hosting 1013 meetings, 2,630 participants and 62,600 minutes of face-to-face discussions.

Liberty Virtual Rooms enable participants to share screens, review submission data, check terms, deductibles, premiums and clauses and, if appropriate, agree there and then to bind a risk.  Because transactions are bound on PPL (the London Market’s electronic placing platform) or Whitespace (the digital re/insurance trading platform), there are no regulatory issues – Virtual Rooms simply facilitates the conversation in real time that enables decisions to be made – quickly.

The flexibility of the architecture also enables underwriters to share line size and product information online. Brokers can view all the LSM team members, their profiles and authority, they can drill down to understand everything from appetite to capacity limits to preferred sub-sectors – information that should streamline the process for placing a risk.

Of course, we’re not alone in recognising that having a virtual meeting capability is the de facto method for engagement. Blueprint Two saw Lloyd’s develop its own virtual meeting room and we’re now in discussion with Lloyd’s around integration via API so we can share our availability and risk appetite directly. This will encourage more transparency and makes the whole market available at the touch of a button.

Challenging market, hard decisions

The ability to talk face-to-face is particularly important in difficult market conditions, when risks are harder to place.

In these challenging times, our underwriters are committed to supporting broker partners and to being transparent about our decision-making process. We want to be open about issues, to have discussions early if a rate increase is needed due to changing risk exposure, or to a changing claims situation. If it must be a ‘no’ on a risk, we want to reach that decision quickly and efficiently through a proper discussion face-to-face, rather than over email.

So, while there might have been a lot of talk around technology replacing jobs, or supplanting the need for face-to-face communication, LSM takes the opposite view. We are proactively embracing technology as a vital tool to enhance and reinforce connectivity. In this difficult market, trust and relationships are important and our Virtual Rooms offer a platform to enhance both.

Future is global

There is no doubt that the pandemic has impacted insurance markets around the world and dramatically accelerated the acceptance of digital approaches.

Initially seen as a way to share availability during movement restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 lockdown, Virtual Rooms are definitely here to stay. During 2021, we will be rolling out the platform to other territories to further enhance and support our human networks around the world. We have built the foundations for the future. We are excited to see what they will deliver.


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