Insurance market Lloyd’s of London has reported its second year in a row of annual losses after claims hit £19.7bn following a raft of natural disasters including the devastating Californian wildfires.
The group reported annual losses of £1bn for 2018 after a £2bn deficit the previous year as it bemoaned “another costly year for natural catastrophes”.
It came as Lloyd’s reacted to allegations of widespread sexual misconduct and a deeply entrenched culture of harassment in which women are “leered” and “letched” at.
The body said on Tuesday that members found guilty of sexual harassment could face lifetime bans.
Its plan of action includes an independent route for reporting inappropriate behaviour, a market-wide survey on the issue and new training.
Lloyd’s of London said the bill for major claims alone cost the market £2.9bn, including for hurricanes Florence and Michael, Typhoon Jebi in Japan and the US wildfires.
But the group said annual results showed “green shoots of improvement”, with prices strengthening by 3.2 per cent on renewal business.
On announcing the 2018 losses, Lloyd’s chief executive John Neal said: “This performance is not of the standard that we would expect of a market that has both the heritage and quality of Lloyd’s.
“We have implemented stronger performance management measures which will remain an enduring feature of how we go about our business.
“We expect these actions to deliver progressive performance improvement across the market beginning in 2019 and in the years to come.”
He added: “We are determined to show decisive leadership across three fronts – to address the performance gap, to secure Lloyd’s future success and, following our announcement yesterday, to tackle all forms of inappropriate behaviour with robust actions to create a more inclusive working environment.”
Women who work at Lloyd’s claim they were abused and attacked by male bosses but did not feel able to speak out due to fears of retribution.
A broker in her late twenties, who regularly conducts business at Lloyds of London, told The Independent she regularly feels “uncomfortable” working there. She said that while she had never been touched inappropriately, she knew people who had.
She said people hired young women to draw in business to their box, a cluster of small desks and benches allocated to each of the approximately 80 syndicates at Lloyd’s.
“I always feel if I wear a skirt or heels or a lower top or dress I know there will be comments made like: ‘oh, hot date?’ As a result, I always wear flats and hate wearing tight shirts or low cut dresses,” she said.
“I have been told and heard people being told to stick their tits out for a certain underwriter or broker. The whole place is very image-focused.
“Every time women are described it is by their looks first. I once got told I didn’t need to dress like that to get a deal done. ‘Wear that tight top to go and get a deal done.’ – all my colleagues have stories like that. Then people say ‘oh it’s just a joke’.
“Everything is deemed to be banter. Innuendo that people laughed off. It happens in front of other colleagues and people laugh about it so you don’t feel you can say anything without fear of being a pariah.
“I have known women that have complained and they have been hushed by HR themselves or had to leave insurance so I never felt able to.”
She said the men making these comments did not deem themselves to be doing anything wrong and that many female colleagues also appeared to think it was normal and socially acceptable.
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