Riskbitz April 2017

Riskbitz April 2017

Many well-known children’s nursery rhymes might originally have come from the Lloyd’s insurance market, according to a study from the UK’s University of Cleethorpes. Researchers started looking into the origin of nursery rhymes after a reference to the children’s chant Ring a ring of roses, a pocket full of posies was found in some early documents from Edward Lloyd’s 17th century coffee shop in the City of London.

It is thought that the rhyme refers to the Great Plague pandemic of 1665 and its symptoms of sneezing. People commonly carried posies because they thought it would ward off the disease. “We think that Lloyd’s underwriters were concerned about the effects of pandemic illness on their portfolios centuries long before the term ‘emerging risk’ was dreamt up by today’s risk professionals,” said Prof Hugh Hoachs.

Now the university’s team of linguists and historians believe that other household children’s rhymes originated from the Lloyd’s insurance market. 

For instance, The grand old Duke of York was an influential Lloyd’s CEO in the early 18th century with a huge staff headcount. It’s believed that he closely managed underwriting capacity, keeping a keen eye on rating levels. The lines And when they were up, they were up/And when they were down, they were down/And when they were only half-way up/They were neither up nor down denotes a market reaching what modern day brokers describe as an inflection point in the underwriting cycle.

Several rhymes appear to vividly depict the broker’s working day. This little piggy went to market appears to be a coded account of the differing fortunes of brokers presenting their clients’ risks to underwriters at Lloyd’s. Note the celebratory And this little piggy went “Wee, Wee, Wee” all the way home! referencing an intermediary looking forward to telling his wife about a hard to place risk he has successfully completed on.

Nor is market consolidation a new phenomenon in the London market. Take this rhyme which deals with the HR issues that come with one insurer acquiring another: See Saw Margery Daw, Johnny shall have a new master/Johnny shall earn but a penny a day/Because he can’t work any faster.

Humpty Dumpty, the most famous nursery rhyme of all, is thought to describe the rise and spectacular fall of the global insurer’s E.G.G.’s fortunes after the South Sea Bubble burst in 1720. Humpty Dumpty was the founder of E.G.G and… Continued p98 

News in tight briefs

Donald Trump Jr, the president of newly formed US reinsurer Trump Re says that his tap is being phoned by the UK’s London Market Association. In a series of tweets from the reinsurer’s Florida HQ, Trump Jnr said that whenever he goes into the men’s room he can hear British accented voices coming from the wash hand basins. Trump Re is the new monopoly reinsurer in the US, formed after a wall was built around Bermuda, a British protectorate, by US marines this year. “Guys, we have taken back control of our reinsurance cessions. Get over it,” Trump Jr tweeted.

ReTractions magazine, the reinsurance magazine, has appointed the former chief financial officer of Mocha Re, Graham Glasses, as its new editor. In a press release, ReTractions said Mr Glasses had all the right qualifications for the job. “He’s a notorious freeloader and is familiar with all the best restaurants and cocktail bars in London,” the statement said. “Plus, he knows a bit about reinsurance.” Glasses was with Mocha Re until he was put into run-off by activist shareholders wearing ski masks last year.

Following confirmation of the UK’s departure date from the European Union, Lloyd’s has announced that it will put its iconic No 1 Lime Street building on wheels so that it can be easily moved between the UK and other European domiciles. A spokesman said, “There is so much uncertainty around the outcome of negotiations we think it is best to play it safe and leave all our options open. We might even trundle it up the A1 to Edinburgh if the Scots do the sensible thing and wangle a deal to stay in. But don’t quote me on that.”

The disruption and eventual destruction of the insurance industry as we know it is the theme for a jam session at this month’s Digital WoodShed & Bootcamp to be held in Old Street’s Silicon Roundabout InsurTech Sandbox Club. Guest speaker and IT guru Toby Geekfest will riff on topics such as why P2P robo-algos will eventually replace blockchain links in the value risk derailleur. Space is limited and you won’t understand any of it so don’t bother coming. 


Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators are not expected to march on the White House in protest at the failure of secretary of state Steven Munchkin to sign the so-called covered agreement. The covered agreement, which promised to open up reinsurance trade between the US and the EU, has not been signed for the last 20 years. “I think they should re-name it so that it doesn’t have the word ‘agreement’ in it. I think it’s putting people off,” said one source not remotely connected with the talks.

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