Bridgerton: A Reinsurance Documentary?

Bridgerton: A Reinsurance Documentary?

Yes, even start-up founders watch Netflix sometimes.

And in our house, the algorithm recently suggested we check out Bridgerton: a show which, much like the reinsurance industry, represents a modern take on the period drama.

So comparable are the two worlds that reinsurance insiders might be persuaded – without too much difficulty – that the hit series was conjured up by an ex-buyer, broker or underwriter, seeking to portray reinsurance’s own equivalent of high society matchmaking.

“Most marriages of the ton are, in fact, mere matters of business, my dear.”

A bridge-rton too far? Yes, the analogy feels like a stretch.

But the fantasy-regency world depicted really is much like our own reinsurance reality: we too go strutting about our ‘ton’ (old-speak for town) in Leadenhall Market, wearing ‘costumes’ (literally the French word for suit) and ensuring one is seen at exclusive balls which – amidst their lavish displays of wealth and status – are the Bridgerton equivalent of Monte Carlo and Baden-Baden.

As with our own great (re)insurance houses, powerful families play host to and call upon one another regularly, cementing long term relationships to ensure that their deals (or offspring, in this case) are able to find suitable matches, with plenty of flirting along the way.

And if you are caught together on-risk, according to both Bridgerton and reinsurance custom, you are expected to stay together for life, as payback.

In fact, there are rules everywhere. Tradition dictates a system of etiquette which – though initially frustratingfor the younger characters – ultimately proves its importance towards building successful and resilient relationships.

“I shall be the very picture of amiability.”

In both settings, relationships are of fundamental importance. Nothing gets done in reinsurance, or in Bridgerton, without knowing the right people.

The right relationships will see the cedent called upon by many potential reinsurance suitors: the wrong ones can see them avoided like the plague.

As buyers and reinsurers seek an audience with one another, it is often left to brokers – much like the character of Lady Danbury – to see that, for their wards, the right doors are opened, their expectations are managed, and they turn up properly attired.

Like the most respected families in the Bridgerton world, those with more established relationships have a natural advantage in the face of adversity.

The equivalent challenges of soft and hard market cycles, changes in the guard, major losses and difficult renewal seasons are no match for the network and social currency commanded by the eponymous Bridgertons.

“If this is to work, we must appear madly in love”

But of course, Bridgerton wouldn’t be an accurate portrayal of reinsurance without the compulsory overexcitement at any hint of passion, betrayal or romance.

And that brings with it a lot of gossip: the secret ingredient in the Bridgerton and reinsurance matchmaking processes alike.

After all, both the Bridgerton and reinsurance markets rely on access to information, and those who can collectively interpret it, to make effective portfolio decisions.

Perhaps that’s why, in our industry, we have so many ‘Lady Whistledowns’ – that is, journalists who knowingly reveal all the ton’s secrets – who collectively keep us on the straight and narrow, racing to bring us the latest and greatest information first.

Bridgerton may soon need to introduce competing Lady Whistledowns, to keep up with its reinsurance muse.

"It is you I cannot sacrifice."

Information is everything. As many characters demonstrate, financial ruin awaits those who stray into the wrong relationships unwittingly: some cedents might have more in their portfolio than they care to mention.

It’s amusing therefore that Bridgerton also follows the reinsurance handbook approach to leaders and followers, for that extra bit of reassurance.

So much so that protagonists Daphne and Simon use this culture to conspire: with Simon’s dukely title and reputation as bait, they mis-lead the following market into fighting for a place on Daphne’s panel – which predictably, ends up horribly oversubscribed.

Perhaps a lesson for us to look beyond gossip when selecting our own ‘diamonds’.

“At long last, the queen has named her most precious stone”.

Let me provide some quick context on ‘diamonds’ for those who’ve yet to indulge in this corner of the Netflix universe.

In Bridgerton, the renewals season opens with a grand display of eligible young ladies...

[And before I go further: for the purposes of this reinsurance analogy, let’s choose to interpret Bridgerton’s polarising gender depictions as a call-to-arms for improvements in the industry’s record on equality – injustice is, after all, a critical ingredient in drama.]

...who are paraded before a waiting audience of gentlemanly suitors, and most importantly, assessed by the queen: the ultimate arbiter of taste.

Then, like some great rating agency, the queen must determine which of the cedents – I mean, bachelorettes – is the most desirable, and accordingly, swings the market pronouncedly in their favour.

With the support of the queen, the diamond’s dance card will be full: in other words, guaranteeing them a flurry of offers from capacity of the highest quality.

But how does the queen make her selection?

“Is the entire practice of naming a diamond, not, well, rather ridiculous?”

It becomes evident throughout the show that the queen is in a bit of a pickle when it comes to making this decision. Particularly when it emerges that others, such as Lady Whistledown, appear to have more information about the candidates than she does.

Forced to select the best cedent using only ‘gut feel’ and whispers, the queen is plagued with dread that she might make the wrong choice.

If later, her diamond is blemished, the queen’s judgement will fall into question: much like an underwriter watching unexpected losses creep into a star programme.

But perhaps she can learn something else from reinsurance here.

Though they might not officially name a single diamond, reinsurers do have a process of figuring out who the most desirable cedents are, after their presentation.

Yes, the history of the family – its wealth, health, connections and reputation – certainly precede it. And true, that short initial meeting lends a first impression too.

However, the likelihood of a match must await that more diligent moment of underwriting: in other words, having a right good look at that young lady’s résumé.

“Should we not value a woman instead for her candour, her character, her true accomplishments?”

What are we to consider the cedent’s curriculum vitae, upon which underwriters shall judge their true worth?

Is it their conversation at dinner, the cut of their suit, the strength of their conviction – nay, passion, or even, panache! – in conveying the brilliance of their company?

Not really.

Simply put, it is the cedent’s submission data that wins the day amongst reinsurers, determining the price they will be willing to accept in exchange for a relationship that season.

The information pack is thus one into which the cedent must pour heart and soul: to be attractive enough to stand out from peers, and credible enough to avoid scepticism or derision.

Fortunately, that’s something Supercede can help with, and the investment is well worth it.

With the latest and greatest in automation technology for reinsurance, preparing submission data is a breeze: meaning you can show off your exhibits to suitors in no time – without anyone seeing anything improper.

In true Bridgerton style, reinsurers reviewing your cleaned up data and burning cost analysis will turn and say…

“...I burn for you”.

Need anyone say any more?

Read our 21st-century guide on buying 21st-century reinsurance software here.

And if you've never watched Bridgerton... well, that was probably a very strange article. Good on you for making it to the end.


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Jerad Leigh
Ben Rose
Jess McCausland
Tom Spier
Livvie Sandells