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LONDON-Over recent years, Lloyd's of London has gradually opened up to the outside world, demystifying the nature of the market and how it does business.
Now, it has opened up its flagship headquarters in London to the outside world-via the Internet.
Anyone with a few minutes to spare and access to the World Wide Web can now see what architect Sir Richard Rogers' famous building on Lime Street really looks like on the inside.
The Lloyd's Web site (www.lloydsoflondon.com) was relaunched earlier this month with a new feature, a 3-D tour of its underwriting room. Web surfers can wander through a computer-generated model of the underwriting room, with explanations of features, such as the loss book, a ledger that records all major marine losses, and the famous Lutine Bell.
More intrepid visitors can virtually scale the escalators in the middle of the room to get a better view of the working market on the floor below or look upward at the barrel-vaulted glass atrium.
For a more realistic scene of the market, Lloyd's agency Beazley Furlonge Ltd. also has relaunched its site (www.beazley.com) and now offers real-time images of its underwriting boxes at Lloyd's.
The site uses a "Web cam" system of two cameras trained on the boxes where underwriters transact business. The pictures are updated every two minutes, giving viewers-especially Lloyd's brokers who need to visit the underwriters-a good idea of the traffic at the boxes. Beazley also provides updates of underwriters' availability each morning on its Web site.
Beazley has had a Web site since December 1996 but has beefed up the information available with the site's redesign.
In addition to the Web cams, the site now offers details of Beazley's major products and application forms that brokers can print in their offices and fax to Beazley.