Anthony Gould, group editor-in-chief of Incisive Media's insurance division welcomed the 1800 guests to the Royal Albert Hall for the British Insurance Awards 2008
In his opening remarks to the British Insurance Awards ceremony, Anthony Gould, group editor-in-chief of Incisive Media's insurance division paid tribute to the role the insurance industry has played in reacting to last year's floods: "This time last year the country was in the midst of the worse flooding to hit the UK for more than 30 years - a disaster that would test the very mettle of the insurance industry. One year on - and £3bn lighter - the industry has proved that it can be relied on in a crisis.
"It has delivered - and is still delivering - on its promises as the last of those relocated return home. Despite being stretched to the limit in terms of people and resources, insurers and their partner suppliers have met the challenges head on - they have worked tirelessly to repair and reinstate properties and resolve at least 180,000 claims."
He continued: "Helping individuals and businesses get through tough times is where this industry can - and really does - come into its own. Insurance is, after all, about risk - assessing it, minimising it and mitigating it."
Looking back at the risks over the last 12 months he said: "Who would have predicted this time last year that the UK would witness the first run on a bank for more than 140 years - Northern Rock.
"We are now undoubtedly in unsettled and uncertain political and economic times - a new experience for some - but the insurance industry is there to help. It is founded on the principle of spreading risk - and affordability and accessibility are key to its future."
Mr Gould warned: "If the insurance industry is to remain relevant in a changing world it has to continue to provide cost effective cover for the right risks to an ever widening range of social and economic communities.
"I am in no doubt the industry can, and will, continue to meet this demand; will keep innovating in terms of the insurance products and services that it offers; and continue to deliver on its promises.
"And the country needs it to. Millions of people depend on the insurance industry - and its suppliers - and yes, you do get it wrong on occasion. But that should not detract from the positive aspects of the industry that are often overlooked.
"The BIA shows that the industry is constantly trying to enhance and improve its offering and service - and that it is not complacent. As tonight's finalists all stand testimony - all the individuals and companies being celebrated tonight have demonstrated a mixture of innovation, skill, dynamism, entrepreneurship, ambition and, of course, vision."
Mr Gould then handed proceedings on to comedian Rob Brydon and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, conducted by Anthony Inglis.
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