Everything you need to know about London Australia Underwriting
Number of employees: around 190
Headquarters: Level 9, 140 Arthur Street, North Sydney, NSW
Key figures: Steve Walker and Declan Rye (Directors and founders)
London Australia Underwriting (LAUW) is an independent underwriting agency that exclusively writes business on behalf of Lloyd’s of London syndicates. It focuses on professional indemnity, management liability, directors and officers, associations’ liability, charities’ liability, IT liability, financial institutions, group personal accident, and cyber insurance.
Sydney-based London Australia Underwriting was founded in 2005 by Steve Walker and Declan Rye. The two have over two decades each of experience in the insurance industry, including significant time underwriting business for various Lloyd’s of London syndicates.
Walker is currently the portfolio manager for financial institutions, while Rye handles the professional indemnity side.
Being in the Australian underwriting market for close to 14 years, LAUW has established itself as one of the market leaders due to its varied products and experienced underwriting team.
According to London Australia Underwriting, it focuses on innovation and service.
LAUW’s cyber insurance policy has six insuring clauses and is modular in form, allowing it to suit clients’ needs and expectations. It covers first party risks such as privacy notification costs, data recovery, and network business interruption, as well as third party insurance from media, intellectual property, and privacy liabilities.
The company believes that cyber insurance must be complemented by value-added services. As such, it has partnered with professionals and other firms, such as risk assessors, forensic experts, public relations firms, and legal advisors to form an incident response team to provide services to aid the insured in case of a cyber breach or attack. It offers a cyber health check, in partnership with cybersecurity provider ZIRILO, which provides policyholders with monthly checks for vulnerabilities.
In the professional indemnity line, LAUW employs a flexible approach to risk assessment that allows it to meet the needs of a wide range of insureds. Aside from a cost-effective offering for small and medium enterprises, it also has bespoke solutions for larger firms.
Its main professional indemnity (PI) focuses are on media, engineering, architects, and accountants. But if there is no clear-cut product for a profession, LAUW can create a custom contract, as well as work with excess layer participations and co-insurance.
According to LAUW’s professional indemnity manager Declan Rye, many insurers are overlooking the fact that professional indemnity is a long-tail business, with some claims taking up to five years to close, especially in a highly litigious society such as Australia. This has led to several insurers withdrawing from the Australian market for PI. He also noted that both big and small insurers have a tendency to jump in and out of financial lines.
“For an underwriter with little experience in long-tail business, this time delay can create confusion,” Rye said. “Eventually the claims catch up, and I believe this is what we are now witnessing in the Australian PI market.”
Meanwhile, LAUW’s ‘SHIELD’ policy provides broad cover for directors and officers (D&O) of medium to large companies. It will protect the company from legal actions brought against these individuals by customers, regulators, shareholders, creditors, and employees.
In the 2018 Insurance Business Awards, London Australia Underwriting sponsored the Australia Young Gun of the Year award, which recognises the best young insurance professionals in the country. After a tightly-contested race, the award was won by Adam Ware, partner and branch manager at BJS Insurance Brokers, Gippsland.
Insurance Business recently held a survey of brokers in Australia, seeking to identify the best underwriters currently in the market. London Australia Underwriting came in second in the Directors and Officers Liability category, behind four-time winner DUAL Australia and ahead of first-time medalist Pen Underwriting.
According to the survey, brokers rate coverage as the most important factor, followed by broker support. Overall service levels ranked third, followed by claims turnaround times and new business turnaround times.