The Underwriting Agencies Council’s 19th annual Sydney Underwriting Expo broke records for exhibitors and visitors.

The Friday 9 March event at the Sydney Hilton had 98 exhibitors and would have topped the tonne had two exhibitors not had to pull out at the last minute.

There were just under 400 brokers registered to receive CPD points and participate in the prize draw but many others chose to wander the two exhibition halls without registering.

Ilona Kalima, director of Sydney-based INK Insurance Services, a PSC Connect authorised representative, won $5,000 of travel vouchers.

A delighted Ms Kalima was stunned when told of her win. “Are you kidding?” she said. Once the news sunk in, she said: “It’s the best prize I have ever won.” Her phone battery ran low as she was visiting the Expo so she was scared she hadn’t met the quota of scanning QR codes for at least 30 exhibitors, but the event app verified she was eligible to win.

With a brother in Germany and relatives in Africa, Ms Kalima is planning an overseas jaunt with her travel vouchers.

Other prize winners included Insurance NSW general manager Meisam Salimabadi, who won a Microsoft surface pro tablet, courtesy of Gratex International, and Brooklyn’s Jeremy O’Connor, who won a Google home, courtesy of WLM Financial Services.

At a Macquarie Group-sponsored breakfast before the Expo opened to brokers, Joe Dainty, Lloyd’s Head of Global Operations, explained the London market’s modernisation process.

He said the electronic placement platform, Placing Platform Ltd (PPL), wasn’t aimed at eliminating face-to-face contact but to reduce paper. Digital transformation was the market’s biggest change since the move from ink wells and quills to ballpoint pens.

“It enables brokers and carriers to submit and bind electronically. The front door to the London market is now digital.”

Mr Dainty said the process began in 2015 and 15,000 risks were now being placed via PPL, but there was “still a long way to go”.

He detailed a wide range of other modernisation initiatives, including:

  • A contract creation tool to pull clauses from a central library to create digital contracts.
  • Reducing manual processes in the accounting system to speed funds transfers.
  • Introducing central settlement numbers for claims to enable coverholders to receive claim funds directly from central settlement in London, rather than through Lloyd’s brokers, speeding claims processing.
  • Reducing multiple audits for coverholders through a central audit capability with a single scope for all managing agents.
  • Regional delegated authority desks. The first was established in the US last year and the Asia-Pacific region started in 2018, with the Singaporean desk already processing some coverholder applications.
  • ACORD-based global data reporting standards have been agreed by the market to ensure consistency.

This year the Expo was open from 9am to 2.30pm, giving brokers more time to talk directly to UAC member agencies and UAC business service members about their specialist products and services.

UAC General Manager William Legge said: “I have not heard so many satisfied comments from both exhibitors and brokers, and from third parties who came along to see what the fuss is all about and left really impressed.”

He thanked UAC’s event sponsors for their contribution to the Sydney Underwriting Expo: breakfast: Macquarie Group; lunch: WLM Financial Services; morning tea: Mecon; coffee cart: Gratex International; event app: Bark Productions; and volunteer staff branding: Gold Seal Human Resources.

“Our challenge now is create an equal or better event in 2019 to celebrate the Sydney Underwriting Expo’s 20th year,” Mr Legge said.