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Lloyd's Staff Takes Off Early on First Sunday

January 21, 1991|JEFF KAYE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

LONDON — Lloyd's of London, the world's largest insurance market, was opened on a Sunday for the first time in its 300-year history.

But it closed early for lack of business.

Lloyd's officials had decided to keep the market open over the weekend to keep pace with the war in the Persian Gulf. War-risk policies are being negotiated on a very short-term basis, as underwriters continue to evaluate the risks for ships, aircraft and cargo. Some policies are good for only 24 hours.

But the need for Sunday transactions proved limited, and officials stopped all business activity at 3 p.m.

"Business was being conducted, but not on a large scale," said Lloyd's spokesman Peter Hill. About 100 brokers and underwriters worked the Lloyd's floor during the peak hours of 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. That compared to about 200 insurance industry workers on the floor during peak hours Saturday.

As expected, the business that was transacted at Lloyd's "boxes"--as the market's 400 trading posts are called--focused on war-risk policies. Only a fraction of the boxes were staffed Sunday.

Premiums remained steady through the weekend. For the most dangerous areas of the Persian Gulf, underwriters charged more than 5% of a ship's value for insurance on the vessels themselves and up to 3.5% of the value of cargo for insurance on ships' contents.

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