Caroline Langridge

The Head of Hiscox’s London Market Underwriting Centre describes her two – contrasting – childhood ambitions and her perfect weekend.

What was your dream job as a child?

I had two, which were so ridiculously different that they make no sense to me now. But I was a kid. I wanted to be a politician and a hairdresser. I was attracted to politics because I’m a people person, I like fixing problems and I often have strong views. But I also used to work at a hairdresser’s owned by one of my mum’s friends when I was 12 or 13. I loved the glamour and drama as the customers talked about their lives, so it seemed to me to be a really fun and exciting job.

How did you get into insurance?

I applied for a job at Hiscox in Colchester after I graduated from the University of Essex. I wasn’t planning to stay long, but nearly 13 years later I’m still here. I knew as soon as I came for the interview that I liked it here. The atmosphere was warm, fun and relaxed, but it also felt very professional. 

Describe your typical day?

It starts with what we call the daily scrum, where each team member explains what he or she is going to do. After that, I’m in meetings throughout the day, which gives me the opportunity to start to drive things forwards – as I said I’m a people person, so I like working face to face. It also means each day is very different, and I’m also learning every day, which is really exciting and challenging for me.

I expect to spend an increasing amount of my day working with different underwriters and brokers as the London Market Underwriting Centre (LMUC) gets up to scale. Also, as our team grows, my role will involve more operational management and people development, so I expect those will take up more of my working day. 

Tell us more about LMUC

It was set up last September to enable Hiscox London Market to transact low-value business more efficiently. Although big, complex risks will still be decided by a senior underwriter in conversation with a broker at the Box in Lloyd’s, there are lots of other smaller, simpler risks that can be transacted more efficiently if we build rules around doing that kind of business. By putting the right structure in place those risks can be done by phone, email, an online portal or even using AI or a good policy administration system. 

I expect to spend an increasing amount of my day working with different underwriters and brokers as the London Market Underwriting Centre (LMUC) gets up to scale.

How does it fit into the London Market’s drive to become more efficient?

It enables us to be cleverer, more efficient, and also more productive, because we’ll be able to deal with risks much quicker.

What’s the ambition for LMUC?

This year’s plan is for it to grow from handling 10% of Hiscox London Market’s business to 35%. That will predominantly be through moving business that’s currently being written by our line underwriters to LMUC underwriters. But, we also hope it will start to write other small-ticket business for which Hiscox previously hasn’t had an appetite. That would generate new revenue for us as well as enable us to better support our brokers.

This year’s plan is for it to grow from handling 10% of Hiscox London Market’s business to 35%. That will predominantly be through moving business that’s currently being written by our line underwriters to LMUC underwriters.

What’s the biggest challenge facing the London Market over the next 12 months?

I’d say it’s the ability to innovate. Two things have struck me most since coming from the retail insurance sector to work in the London Market business. The first is how difficult it is to implement change. The London Market’s size and structure make it very hard to be nimble and dynamic. Also, there doesn’t seem to be many firms focusing on innovation. That’s a big contrast from the retail insurance industry, where there are lots of insurtech startups, which combine a very strong technical grasp of the business with an understanding of technology’s potential to improve how it can operate.

What was the last film you went to see at the cinema?

The Darkest Hour. It was okay, but our son, who’s 15 months old, hadn’t been sleeping very well, and my husband and I had had a couple of glasses of wine beforehand, so we had to fight the temptation to drift off to sleep.

Describe your perfect weekend?

It would be to have no plans. My working week is so busy that it’d be great to not do very much on Saturday and Sunday apart from to go to the park, go out for lunch, and perhaps see some friends or family. I say that, but my husband tells me that I get very aggy if I don’t have a lot to do.

Tell us something about yourself that most people wouldn’t know?

That’s difficult because I’m very open, so I tell people everything about myself almost as soon as they’ve met me. I can ice skate to quite a high standard, however. A former professional ice dancer who was a friend of my aunt’s taught me for years before I decided when I was a teenager that it was far too uncool, because I couldn’t do it in jeans and an asymmetric top with a fag in my hand.