Jonathan Swift, chairman of the judging panel and Post's editor-in-chief, welcomed guests to the 2011 Claims Club annual dinner at Grand Connaught Rooms, London by praising the hard work that the claims industry does and explained that in aiming to provide a full service to its members this year, the claims awards have been introduced.
He said the awards aimed to reward "the good practice and the great work that you all — as claims professionals — have been doing against an ever-testing background of social and political upheaval, as well as everything Mother Nature has to throw at you".
He added: "And what a 12 months it has been. As 2010 came to a close, the UK was in the grip of freezing temperatures and snow, with the Association of British Insurers warning that damage caused by frozen and burst pipes and also by leaking water was costing the industry more than £7m every single day.
"By February, with the data in, the trade body revealed insurers had dealt with some £900m worth of property damage claims and £530m in vehicle claims, helping 450 000 customers — roughly equivalent to the population of Leeds."
He went on to highlight how the political environment has affected claims: "Elsewhere, May 2010 saw the dawn of a new government, and over its first year in office we have seen some notable disappointments, missed opportunities and potential wins in what it has set out to do.
"The most notable disappointment has been in the area of flood defenses, where the Conservative-Liberal coalition plan to reduce spending to £540m per year between 2011 and 2015, 8% less than its average yearly spend over the previous four years of £590m.
"We have also had the missed opportunity of the Transport Select Committee report on motor insurance in which the politicians involved seemed to ignore the link between escalating insurance premiums, personal injury claims and spiraling legal costs."
On the matter of referral fees, he added, the committee simply concluded they should be more transparent rather advocating they be outlawed altogether.
However, he was pleased to say there was better news in March "when the government — perhaps mindful of the flack dished out in the wake of the Transport Select Committee's report — said it planned to implement in full the recommendations of Lord Justice Jackson's review of civil litigation".
In addition to this, he mentioned Chancellor George Osborne's declaration that Lord Young's recommendations would also be implemented in full in the most recent budget and speculated when the government will follow through on this promise.
And while some of these issues are ongoing, Mr Swift concluded on a high note, saying the night was about taking some time out to look at the industries achievements before getting back to the job in hand tomorrow. He concluded: "Whatever has been exercising your mind and causing you stress — whether it is ghost brokers or text pests, your CEO or CHOs — tonight is about putting them to one side for a couple of hours and enjoying ourselves."
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