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Catastrophes don’t deter Lloyd’s, says Asia Pacific chief

The recent string of natural catastrophes in Australia hasn’t deterred Lloyd’s from pursuing business in this country, the market’s most senior manager in the region says.

Speaking at the Steadfast Convention on the Gold Coast last week, Asia Pacific MD Kent Chaplin said the London-based market’s central assets stand at record levels, and it would take a $16 billion claim (net of reinsurance) in Australia to wipe out Lloyd’s security here.

Mr Chaplin says the private insurance market should remain “the first line of defence” against the impact of natural catastrophes, and warns against growing reliance on government-backed insurance schemes.

“The key problem with government-backed schemes is that they centralise the losses in one place – the public exchequer,” he said. “The global reinsurance industry spreads the risks across capital providers across the globe, so the burden is shared.”

He says Lloyd’s is examining how to use technology more effectively “while keeping the face-to-face trading we are well known for, supported with efficient backroom processes”.

Claims systems are being modernised to meet the demand for greater efficiency in dealing with the more than 400,000 claims that enter the market each year.

Lloyd’s paid $US12.75 billion ($12.17 billion) in claims in 2010, while the floods in Australia have cost the market about $US650 million ($620.5 million) and the New Zealand earthquakes $US1.6 billion ($1.52 billion).

“I know that Lloyd’s in some areas still has a bad reputation for paying claims,” Mr Chaplin said. “I think that’s unfair.

“Claims under our claims transformation program now show improved times for average claim transactions by 40% – from 25 to 15 days.

“We’re implementing these changes across the market, and we are starting to see from surveys that Lloyd’s is outperforming competitors in terms of claims processing.”

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