British Insurance Awards at 25: The judges reflect on the changing market

BIA judging 2019

With the deadline for entering the British Insurance Awards getting ever closer, what better time to introduce the judges who will be casting an eye over these years submissions? Post canvasses them for their favourite memories of previous BIAs and their thoughts on how much the sector has changed over the past 25 years

Meet the judges

Andy Briscoe

Andy Briscoe, chair, Money Advice Service and the UK Financial Capability Board

Jack Brownhill

Jack Brownhill, founder, World Motor Insurance Consultancy

James Dalton

James Dalton, director, general insurance policy, Association of British Insurers

Angela Darling CCG

Angela Darling, non-executive director, Universal Insurance Company and co-founder, Dedhapi

Julia Graham

Julia Graham, technical director, Airmic

Peter Graham

Peter Graham, executive chairman, Toggle Data

Chris Hanks

Chris Hanks, independent non-executive director, Liberty Specialty Markets

hyde-malcolm-cila-2

Malcolm Hyde, executive director, Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters

Steve Jenkins

Steve Jenkins, development director, Chartered Insurance Institute 

laughton scott olly2 imas

Olly Laughton-Scott, founding partner, Imas

Clare Lebecq

Clare LeBecq, CEO, London Market Group

barbara merry mar09

Barbara Merry, former chair of the Independent Women in Insurance Network and non-executive director, CGNMB, Domestic & General and British Friendly Society

John O'Roarke

John O’Roarke, partner, ABC Investors; chairman, Horwich Farrelly and non-executive director, Aviva UK and Direct Asia

Helen Pope

Helen Pope, head of insurable risk, Tesco Stores

Manjit Rana

Manjit Rana, managing director, corporate innovation, Start-Up Bootcamp and entrepreneur in residence, Nottingham University

Barbara Schonhofer

Barbara Schönhofer, founder, Insurance Supper Club and CEO, Schönhofer Executive Search

David Smith

David Smith, chairman, AA Insurance Services and non-executive director, Bupa and Lockton

Peter Staddon

Peter Staddon, managing director, Managing General Agents Association

ashton west

Ashton West, chair of the board of trustees, The Road Safety Trust and non-executive director, Weightmans

Steve White

Steve White, CEO, British Insurance Brokers’ Association

Gerald Williams

Gerald Williams, former director, Fitzgerald Consulting, Miller Pycraft and Cunningham Lindsey

david-worsfold

David Worsfold, founder, Worsfold Media Services

What were you doing in 1994 when the British Insurance Awards launched?

Andy Briscoe, chair, Money Advice Service and the UK Financial Capability Board: Living in Bristol working for Clerical Medical setting up the first ever automated financial planning service.

Jack Brownhill, founder, World Motor Insurance Consultancy: Struggling with the motor underwriter’s ever present challenge of balancing vanity with sanity – the vanity of writing an ever growing motor insurance portfolio with the sanity of writing for profit. It was a particular poignant year for me as it saw the name of Minster Insurance dispatched (albeit temporarily) to the history books as GAN Minster morphed into GAN Insurance. 

James Dalton, director, general insurance policy, Association of British Insurers: I was in my last year of high school in New Zealand preparing for all the great adventures that would await at law school.

Angela Darling, non-executive director, Universal Insurance Company and co-founder, Dedhapi: Working for Highway Motor Policies at Lloyd’s in various guises following the acquisition of Leadenhall Motor Policies and subsequently ALS and Pegasus Motor Policies at Lloyd’s.

Julia Graham, technical director, Airmic: I was working at Royal Insurance in Manchester as the North West region head of business services. I was also president of the Insurance Institute of Manchester, the first woman to head up this respected and still thriving body.

Peter Graham, executive chairman, Toggle Data: Working at Direct Line, a fresh faced chap in the IT department. And struggling with being a young parent.

Chris Hanks, independent non-executive director, Liberty Specialty Markets: I had just taken over as general manager at AGF Insurance responsible for personal lines. I don’t think I went to the first awards night but think I went to the second or third year and have missed only about one since.

Malcolm Hyde, executive director, Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters: All a blur – we had a four-year-old and a two-year-old – I was loss adjusting in Surrey managing an office for Ellis & Buckle. I had a superb team and for the first time I
co-wrote and presented an Introduction to Loss Adjusting course.   

Steve Jenkins, development director, Chartered Insurance Institute: Trying my best to secure new business as an inspector from reluctant brokers of the day – some of whom are still around.

Olly Laughton-Scott, founding partner, Imas: Just starting Imas.

Clare LeBecq, CEO, London Market Group: I was working in a reinsurance brokers called RK Carvill at the time on LMX business. It was a great time in my career as I was working with the likes of John Cavanagh and Nick Frankland who were very inspirational. I was also trying to complete my ACII.

Barbara Merry, chair of the Independent Women in Insurance Network and non-executive director, CGNMB, Domestic & General and British Friendly Society: Planning my wedding which took place in summer 1994. 

John O’Roarke, partner, ABC Investors; chairman, Horwich Farrelly and non-executive director, Aviva UK and Direct Asia: I was deputy MD at Churchill where we had just launched our brand icon – the Churchill dog.

Helen Pope, head of insurable risk, Tesco Stores: Claims handling at Anglian Water and running two Guide units (hadn’t had my kids then).

Manjit Rana, managing director, corporate innovation, Start-Up Bootcamp and entrepreneur in residence, Nottingham University: It was one of the years when I took a break from the insurance world to help take one of the Misys group companies into a new market. 

Barbara Schönhofer, founder, Insurance Supper club and CEO Schönhofer Executive Search: Probably on a plane. In the early to mid-nineties I was reinventing myself as an executive search consultant in the (re)insurance market. 

David Smith, chairman, AA Insurance Services and non-executive director, Bupa and Lockton: Running a laboratory for Eagle Star.

Peter Staddon, managing director, Managing General Agents Association: Running CE Heath’s specialist Risks department from their Southend office.

Ashton West, chair of the board of trustees, The Road Safety Trust and non-executive director, Weightmans: General manager at Iron Trades Insurance Company.

Steve White, CEO, British Insurance Brokers’ Association: Working for the Orion Insurance Company as a key account manager, based in the Midlands.

Gerald Williams, former director, Fitzgerald Consulting, Miller Pycraft and Cunningham Lindsey: Working as a business interruption adjuster in London with Thomas Howell Group – a name that’s now long disappeared into the mists of time, sadly.  

David Worsfold, founder, Worsfold
Media Services:
Launching them. I was then editor-in-chief of Post and Reinsurance and had created some stand-alone awards in partnership with various companies. In 1994 we decided to put them together and create something much bigger and launched the BIAs with the first presentation dinner at Grosvenor House.

What is your favourite memory of the BIAs you have attended?

Brownhill: Almost impossible to pick out a single event. But who can forget 2002 when Jeremy Clarkson found himself presenting the Risk Management Award to Caravan Guard.

Dalton: The atmosphere is always electric as friends and colleagues catch up, but Billy Ocean [2016] was a particular highlight in terms of the entertainment.

J Graham: The first time I attended an awards dinner at the Royal Albert Hall – it was emotional to see so many people celebrating a sector I have always been very proud to be part of.

Hanks: Best memories were from 2002 when my assistant [Clair Haywood] won the Young Achievement award. I since had two more of my assistants win that prize so I am very proud. Also winning General Insurer of the Year in 2004 for the first time. When I joined Cornhill/Allianz we were really nowhere on the scale of other insurers. The BIAs have been a significant part of the Allianz UK story of success.

Hyde: The Women in CILA Group led by Candy Holland winning the Diversity Award [2018]. They have generated a whole new generation of loss adjusters and have opened the door to so many people. 

Jenkins: Being called out on the big screen at the Royal Albert Hall by Al Murray who was asking me exactly what does the CII do [2015].

Laughton-Scott: The first BIA I attended; I was blown away by the size and razzmatazz (and it probably was not as razzy as I remember) of the event.

LeBecq: Last year when the LMG got the technology award. It was a great proof point for us at a time that was quite crucial to the implementation of PPL.

Merry: My favourite event was when Billy Ocean was the entertainment [2016]. Fantastic.

O’Roarke: Favourite memory of the BIA’s is being part of the team that won General Insurer of the year at LV in 2012 – a deeply gratifying moment for the 3000 people who had made LV such a great place to work.

Pope: The Abba Tribute band Bjorn Again [2015] and Tesco winning the Major Loss Award [2013].

D Smith: My protege Nichola Thomson winning Young Achiever many years
ago [2001].

P Smith: Two comperes: Dara O’Brian [2007/9] and Bill Bailey [2014].

Schönhofer: The wonderful Albert Hall being ram packed full and throbbing with loud music.

West: I think I have only missed one BIA evening. Wining the Achievement Award in 2010 would be my obvious answer to this one. However, watching Billy Ocean perform more recently was great too. 

White: Attending my first BIAs with the Royal Albert Hall full of the great and the good of our profession and being in thrall at the spectacle.

Williams: The risqué humour of Al Murray (2015) – and of course the year that Fitzgerald Consulting (2012) won an award.

Worsfold: Top of my list is 2005, when the BIA was held on the day it was announced London had won the 2012 Olympic bid. I was introducing the evening, strode on stage and said “tonight is a great night to be in London because London is a winner”, and 1800 people raised the roof of the Royal Albert Hall with their cheering.

The BIAs are now 25 years old; what would you describe as the biggest shift in the insurance sector during that time?

Briscoe: Comparison websites.

Brownhill: It would be easy to say technology or customer focus but what stands out for me is how our industry has recognised the every growing need for us to be professional in every way.

Dalton: Although the fundamentals of the industry have remained the same, I would say that the biggest change has been the ability for firms to collect and analyse ever greater amounts of data. 

Darling: It is still an industry where relationships are key and always will be, but the focus is definitely now on technology and how it can support both growth and profit as well as improve customer experience and choice.

J Graham: There’s still a diversity journey to travel, but the number of women in senior roles in the sector has increased and their careers are now seen as meaningful and worth investing in – not always the case.

P Graham: Transparency of product pricing and commoditisation of personal lines.

Hanks: The move to digital, e-trading and e-communication in all its forms. From online sales to geographic mapping; from fraud analysis to rating engines, all are major changes from where we were in 1994.

Hyde: The ready access to information – we had no internet in 1994 in my office and only one computer, this combined with the excellent shift to rewarding Treating Customers Fairly has changed the landscape.

Jenkins: Customers directly purchasing personal lines.

LeBecq: The shift to consumer online purchasing and the advent of the aggregator.

Merry: Globalisation, consolidation, sophistication especially of capital, and unfortunately for London, the increased competition and significance of local markets.

O’Roarke: Biggest shift in the sector over the past 25 years has been the surge in the intensive regulation of the industry – some of which has been a good thing for customers but much of which has simply added unnecessary overheads.

Pope: Increasing professionalism.

Rana: Comparison websites. Smartphones and changing consumer behaviour, which has forced the industry to rethink the way their products are designed and used. The rise in the number of insurtechs. And, finally, diversity – it is nice to see more females in senior roles but we need to do more to balance the ratio.

Schönhofer: Globalisation. The industry, even in the London Market was very UK-centric in approach back then. We are now truly cross-border in our thinking. 

D Smith: The move from open market broking to panels and facilities, driven by consolidation.

P Smith: Regulation certainly has had the most impact, but regarding ‘a shift’, I’d say diversity of people.

West: My personal view is that the digital transformation that we are experiencing at the moment is the greatest seismic shift we have seen. Customer expectations, products and services, risks, processes, data analytics, working practices and environments are all being revolutionised at a pace that we have never experienced before.

Williams: The greater attention to professionalism and, in particular, the concept of treating customers fairly.

Worsfold: The traditional heartland of insurance – underwriting and claims – remains recognisable and still faces many of the same challenges as 25 years ago with putting the customer first as the most pressing. The big game-changer has been technology both as a risk and as a tool for the industry. 

If you could give anyone a BIA for their services to the insurance sector who would it be?

Briscoe: Sergei the Meerkat

Brownhill: This is really tricky but looking close to home I am tempted to suggest David Worsfold who steered BIA from its birth in 1995 in to an annual event that celebrates the vibrancy of the insurance industry.

Dalton: Aleksandr Orlov for fundamentally changing the distribution landscape and consumer engagement with insurance.

Darling: Jonathan Swift for tenaciously continuously promoting and reporting on the industry, warts and all, since 1998 and for helping to found the Insurance United Against Dementia charity. Of course he is to too young to qualify – but I have always been one for ignoring the rules.

J Graham: I have two suggestions. Firstly Norma Fairhurst was the secretary of the Manchester Insurance Institute for a good number of years. Norma did a fabulous job, and with her colleague Alan, kept the office running after the Manchester bombing in 1996, kept her presidents on their toes (including me) and the board, committees and events running smoothly. 

Secondly, Roy White is the chairman of Marsh UK Specialties. Roy and his team looked after the insurance programme of the company I worked for as head of risk management. We lived through some challenging times.

Hanks: Two names initially spring to mind, as their legacy stretches wide and deep. Firstly, Peter Woods who initiated the original work in personal lines motor [through Direct Line] which was to revolutionise that sector. And then Sandy Scott who rescued a moribund CII to put professionalism and life time learning back onto the agenda.

Hyde: Obviously all the Presidents at the CILA for their dedication and commitment to the profession. But if I must pick one person it would be Alison Gamble, as head of quality auditing and my boss at Ashworth Mairs Group she always managed to turn negatives into positives and guide loss adjusters to work more effectively and diligently.

Jenkins: Sir Winston Churchill for his quote: ‘“If I had my way, I would write the word ‘insure’ upon the door of every cottage and upon the blotting book of every public man, because I am convinced, for sacrifices so small, families and estates can be protected against catastrophes which would otherwise smash them up forever.”

Merry: For me, it would be all the unsung heroes who make things happen and support behind the scenes to ensure that the titans look good.

LeBecq: I would give it to [former Beazley chief underwriting officer and Lloyd’s independent non-executive] Neil Maidment, who is not only an expert in his field but also a huge supporter of the London insurance market.

O’Roarke: Bronek Masojada – over the past 19 years he has led the growth of Hiscox from a small specialist insurer to become a FTSE 100 company. At the same time, he has made a huge contribution to the development of our industry through his deputy chairmanship of Lloyds, at the board of the ABI and at the Worshipful Company of Insurers. 

Pope: John Hurrell for all the work he did in bringing Airmic to the level that it is now at.

Schönhofer: There are a number of well-known people and some less well known, as well as some very courageous women, who I could single out. These are the people who have broken the mould and did not take no for an answer when questioning existing practices, the people that relentlessly thought through how to fight inertia, those that have stood their ground to make the market better, more inclusive and open to good business. 

D Smith: Amanda Blanc, for breaking down so many barriers, and being successful and an incredibly honest person at the same time. Or Lord Hunt, for being the most consistent champion of insurance for so many years.

P Smith: Lord Hunt due to his continuing influence and presence in the insurance sector. 

Rana: David Rasche – ex CEO of SSP for taking a small broker software house (North Park) and turning it into the leading broker software house. And Peter Wood – for having the vision to create Direct Line and Esure which changed the face of insurance. 

West: If you are looking for people who have achieved significant commercial success with their organisations there would be a number of contenders. If it is someone who has contributed in a wider sense then someone like Lord Hunt might be considered. 

White: Lord Hunt for representing insurance within the corridors of power with class.

Worsfold: I believe the BIAs have helped raise standards across the industry by putting excellence in the spotlight for the past 25 years. That achievement owes much to the man who was my partner in launching them, Matthew Townsend. The awards would never have gone anywhere without Matt’s vision as a publisher. Sadly, Matt passed away a year ago, just a few days short of his 49th birthday. He deserves much of the credit for the success of the BIAs over the past 25 years. 

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