Diary of an Insurer: Aviva’s Stephen Wilkinson

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Stephen Wilkinson, head of risk management south for Aviva Private Clients, spends his week advising high-net-worth individuals on bespoke insurance, report-writing and cheering on his children from the sidelines of a sports pitch.

Stephen Wilkinson_Aviva


I’m up early to get my kids out the door for school, before launching into a busy working week visiting high-net-worth clients across the UK and Europe.

This morning, I attend a property in the south of England, which the owners are modernising. It is rare we insure properties while significant works are ongoing, but by engaging proactively with the client and contractors at an early stage, we can ensure they consider installing the correct protective measures, such as safes, fire alarms and water leak detection systems.

After all, there is nothing worse than a client spending a lot of money on a refurbishment, only to find out that what has been installed does not meet an insurer’s requirement.

At 3pm, I jump on a quick planning meeting as, in a few weeks’ time, I will be hosting one of our third party-approved jewellery valuation companies, which are coming to train our risk managers and underwriters on jewellery valuations and the latest prices and trends in the market.

Working closely with independent accredited companies helps us to stay up to date across the market, and ensures our experts remain at the top of their game.


Today, I’m working from the London office, preparing for client visits in Italy later in the week, where I will be risk-surveying several properties and their contents.


Just like with properties in the UK, preparation is an intensive task, and includes using various sources to check flood, earthquake and wildfire data, researching building costs within the local area and gaining an understanding of what fire and security protections are already in place at the properties.

As I’m off to Italy tomorrow, I leave the office on time, so I can pack my suitcase and get out the door quickly in the morning. 

I know the trip will be extremely busy, so I do a last-minute email sweep and make sure any urgent technical queries from underwriters or brokers are attended to.


I’m up at 5am as I have an early departure from Gatwick airport. I meet the UK-based broker ahead of our flight and we discuss the upcoming trip over a coffee before heading to our gate.


Our flight arrives in Florence at lunchtime, and from the airport we travel into the city centre. 

We spend the afternoon visiting two client apartments, where we currently provide insurance cover for additions and alterations to the flats, home contents cover and cover for valuables.

All HNW homes are different and underinsurance can be a problem in the industry. By visiting and viewing a property internally and externally, I can help set accurate sums insured for buildings and contents, ensuring that the bespoke insurance cover we provide meets our client’s needs.

Relationship-building is an important part of any HNW role and, in the evening, I meet with the broker to debrief about the visits and discuss potential risk improvements on the properties.


No two days are the same in the private client space and, after grabbing breakfast on the go, I travel by train from Florence to central Rome to survey a large property.

Health and safety inspector

Risk-surveying is an intricate task and, due to the size of the property, the visit takes all afternoon. While on site, I measure each building externally and capture the unique features of the home, which will help with rebuilding work should a loss occur.

Once I have finished inspecting the property, I meet with the client to provide fire, safety, and security advice as well as provide guidance on how best to protect their extensive art collection. 

While some conversations are in English, being fluent in Italian assists me in having these discussions.

It’s my last night in Italy and I have to be up for an early flight, so I pack my suitcase and grab a bite to eat before heading to bed. As expected in Rome, the ‘Trippa alla Romana’ dish was outstanding.


After a flying visit to Italy, I’m back in the UK, and it’s business as usual. I’m working from home for the rest of today, and I’ll be writing up the client and underwriting reports for the properties I saw while I was away.


Due to the complexities of the risks, these reports will probably take around three days to complete, especially the more technical elements, such as building calculations.

I attend our weekly Friday meeting with the other risk surveyors in my team, where we reflect on the week, discuss diaries and set our priorities for the coming week. We tend to be booked out four weeks in advance and the calendar is already filling up for January.

As I start winding down for the weekend, I’ll try to fit in a 5k run, before switching back into dad mode, ferrying my sports-mad daughters between various hockey and football matches. 

Nothing makes me prouder than cheering on my children from the sidelines of a sports pitch.

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