History and Technology Contend for the Future of Insurance
Ross Naismith

A tug of war between history and tradition and the future and innovation is being played out in London’s storied insurance sector, and the industry is feeling the reverberations worldwide.

London has long been a centre of excellence for insurance — Lloyd’s of London serves as both its spiritual and actual focus point in key underwriter/broker exchanges. The ‘Lloyd’s Triangle’ – a section of the City bounded by Leadenhall, Fenchurch, and Bishopsgate Streets – remains an important geography for insurance companies to have a presence. Strong personal relationships and in-person interaction remain critical elements in insurance exchanges, and using increasingly well-appointed offices with prestigious addresses to host these interactions remains a strategic necessity.

However, at the same time technology is changing the game. Insurance companies are conducting more and more business online; hitting a return key increasingly does what was once done with a handshake. Within certain sectors of the insurance industry, technology has lessened the importance of collocation of business functions. Back-of-office services can be moved to cheaper real estate locations, freeing up increasingly expensive city locations for front office workers.

Even the face of The Triangle is changing as aging building stock and high real estate costs drive site redevelopment, leading to increasingly newer, modern architecture being woven into the existing historic contexts.

No one doubts that technology will continue its rise in prominence, but the human element has an importance in insurance that is proving tenacious. London is showing that it may be both/and rather than either/or.

To read more about this issue and others impacting the insurance industry, please read the longer paper which can be found here.

Ross Naismith is a leader of Gensler’s Financial Service Practice Area and works at the firm’s London office. Email him at ross_naismith@gensler.com.
Article originally appeared on architecture and design (http://www.gensleron.com/).
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