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Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance
Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance

Lloyd’s closes Underwriting Room to prevent virus spread

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Lloyd’s has closed its iconic Underwriting Room following advice from the UK Government on slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Under normal circumstances, thousands of brokers and underwriters gather each day in the massive 60 metre high space, known simply as “the room”, in Lime Street, London. But Lloyd’s confirmed today that the room will close for the foreseeable future.

“It is with a heavy heart we have taken this decision and we will review the situation weekly,” a statement from the Lloyd’s Executive Committee says.

The Lloyd’s action comes close on the heels of a more interventionist attitude from the UK Government, which yesterday switched from its controversial “herd immunity” strategy that accepted the virus would spread through the country’s population.

The change of heart is believed to have been triggered by a report from experts at the Imperial College in London who predicted that an uncontrolled spread of the virus could cause as many as 510,000 deaths in the UK.

The report also projected up to 2.2 million deaths in the US, and is understood to have influenced moves by the White House to introduce tougher public isolation controls.

Lloyd’s ran a successful test of its new electronic trading capacity on Friday, shutting the Underwriting Room for 24 hours.

“Therefore, we are confident our emergency trading protocols will enable the market to continue trading during the closure,” Lloyd’s says.

For policyholders with questions, a dedicated email address has been set up – coronavirus@lloyds.com.