Lloyd’s accelerates Brexit plan as Beale says ‘no deal’ more likely

Lloyd’s is stepping up implementation of its Brexit contingency plan as the threat of no deal rises, CEO Dame Inga Beale told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show at the weekend.

Ahead of her departure from Lloyd’s this week, Ms Beale said Lloyd’s is “accelerating” plans for its new European subsidiary in Brussels, which will begin underwriting European risks from 1 January.

Ms Beale said the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit has increased and Lloyd’s must be in a position to handle claims from clients and policyholders in Europe after the UK leaves the European Union in March 2019.

“If we can’t serve our contracts, we are going to be transferring those contracts hopefully to our Brussels subsidiary, so we have a contingency plan,” Ms Beale said. “In fact, we are accelerating that plan because it seems to me we might be closer to a no-deal than we were.”

Ms Beale told the programme that 15% of Lloyd’s’ business comes from the European Union. This is currently written from London, using European passporting rights that are almost certain to expire when the UK ceases to be a member of the EU. Ms Beale said the Brussels unit is only being set up because Brexit had forced its hand, and is needed if the market wants to continue writing European insurance business.

“Post-Brexit we won’t have the ability to continue offering insurance just from London as before, therefore we are opening a subsidiary in Brussels. We wouldn’t have done that if it wasn’t for Brexit. It’s something we have been forced to do,” Ms Beale said.

Former CEO of QBE John Neal has been appointed to succeed Ms Beale and will take over on 15 October.

In a separate interview with The Sunday Times, Ms Beale said she is not surprised she is being succeeded by a man, after making history as the corporation’s first female CEO and headlining major diversity and inclusion initiatives in the market. “All of us female chief executives, we all say: ‘We’re pretty certain that our successors are gonna be men’,” she said.

Ms Beale also told the newspaper that she received sexist and homophobic abuse in anonymous mail when she took up the role at Lloyd’s. She suspects some came from within the market and disclosed that the chairman of Lloyd’s also received derogatory messages about her.

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