Lloyd's celebrates Dutch future with historic event

Rotterdam skyline

Lloyd’s first Meet the Market event in Rotterdam has brought the Dutch and Lloyd’s markets closer together.

The event, held almost one year after opening Lloyd’s Benelux office in Rotterdam, highlighted how the two markets share much common ground, with a shared history and business culture.

Shared past
London and the Dutch port of Rotterdam share a common history as centres of international trade and insurance that can be traced back some 400 years or more.

Like London, the insurance markets in Rotterdam and Amsterdam grew in tandem with international trade. London and Amsterdam were the world’s international maritime and trading power houses of the 1600 and 1700s, with both cities vying to be the centre of global banking and insurance.

Lessons in Dutch 
In fact the insurance market in Amsterdam probably pre-dates that of London, with trading first recorded in the mid-1500s. In 1598, the first insurance bourse opened in Rotterdam, followed by Amsterdam in 1611 – well ahead of Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House opening in the City of London.

The Dutch market may even have influenced the development of Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House into a market, says Ralph Van Helden, Lloyd’s Benelux Regional Manager and Netherlands Representative.

It is believed that a Dutch coffee trader, Martin Van Mierop, visited Edward Lloyd’s coffee shop and introduced underwriters to the Dutch system and concept of a Bourse. Van Mierop eventually became Lloyd’s first ever chairman.

Insurance heavyweights
The Benelux region, and the Netherlands in particular, have always produced a strong stream of business for Lloyd’s – generating about €400 million of premium for Lloyd’s, says Van Helden.

The Netherlands is an attractive market for corporates and is home to some of the world’s biggest corporations and international investment groups, he says. The Dutch market also punches far above its weight, ranking the fourth largest in Europe after the UK, Germany and France, says Van Helden.

Better access for Lloyd’s
Lloyd’s opened its first Benelux representative office in 2011, and recently successfully negotiated better access for Lloyd’s underwriters to the Dutch subscription market, says Van Helden.

“Managing agents are now able to join the Dutch insurance Bourse – the VNAB – and participate in the Dutch subscription market out of London, but with placement, processing and claims management all transacted virtually,” he says.

The Dutch insurance market closed its trading floor in 2004, but the subscription market lives on through its Electronic Automatic Broking System.

There are currently some 35 insurers and 50 brokers that are members of the VNAB, including Lloyd’s syndicates managed by Catlin and Torus through their branch offices in the Netherlands. It writes a wide range of property, casualty and marine insurances, posting annual premiums of €1.3 billion in 2010.

“This is a tremendous achievement and we are now talking to several managing agents about joining the VNAB and underwriting in the Dutch subscription market from Lloyd’s in London.”

Meeting the market
Lloyd’s Benelux hosted its first Meet the Market event in Rotterdam on March 20. The event was attended by 425 people representing Lloyd’s, managing agents, coverholders and brokers, including Dutch local brokers.

It was held in Rotterdam’s World Trade Center, which was built on the site of the old insurance Bourse in 1986 – the same year as the Lloyd’s building opened at One Lime Street – and is now home to Lloyd’s Benelux office.

Held on almost the exact spot of the original Rotterdam insurance Bourse, the Meet the Market event replicated the trading floor, complete with underwriting boxes.

“The Rotterdam Bourse ceased in 2004, but for just one day we rebuilt the market,” says Van Helden.

Trawling the archives
The historical ties between the markets were also reflected in some of the artefacts from Lloyd’s archive that were displayed at the event, including a Lloyd’s underwriting box from 1928.

Also on display was a more than 200 year-old Lloyd’s Loss Book in which the loss of HMS Lutine is listed on October 19, 1799. The ship, whose name is synonymous with Lloyd’s, was carrying a cargo of gold and silver bullion when she sank off the Dutch coast. The cargo, valued then at around £1 million, was insured by Lloyd’s underwriters, who paid the claim in full.

“The sinking of the Lutine remains one the biggest maritime mysteries in the Netherlands,” says Van Helden.


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