Award winner ‘overwhelmed’ by victory, thanking ‘large team of volunteers’ who contributed to project that helped secure the recognition

Claims and supply chain expert Eddie Longworth, director of Jel Consulting, has had a busy 2024 so far.

He kickstarted the year by leading a group of 127 industry specialists to create a new voluntary code of conduct around the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the insurance claims sector. This launched on 31 January 2024.

The code, which establishes an ethical standard of responsibility when using AI in the claims settlement process, is based on three principles – fairness, accountability and transparency. It aims to make the claims sector’s use of AI explainable, comprehensible and fair.

Longworth believes that spearheading this project was the reason he was crowned 2024’s Claims Champion at Insurance Times’ Claims Excellence Awards on 23 May 2024 – although he feels that he cannot take all the credit for the code’s initial success and warm welcome into industry practices.

He tells Insurance Times: “I think the award was recognition for my role in the work on the AI code of conduct – but in reality, I have to say I was able to build a large team of volunteers who worked so hard in writing and promoting the code.

“I have been so fortunate to have been able to work with an exciting, interested and talented team of over 120 people on this project and I hope the award is also seen as recognition of their work.”

For Longworth, the timing of the code’s creation has been important.

He explains: “We were so lucky that the timing for the project was right.

“This was something I cared about and [I] recognised that there would be a be a time when the industry needed to address the issues around the use of AI.

“I spotted there was a gap in the market for a type of regulation to address the way in which the industry used AI and how we handled claims. In some way, there is still a gap.

“I just thought we needed to get on with it and the timing fitted. We have been able create what is a fantastic project.”

Greater visibility

The Claims Champion award is one of the most prestigious prizes gifted during the Claims Excellence Awards, which is held annually at Kensington’s Royal Garden Hotel.

Longworth believes the publicity around winning such an accolade has put the AI code of conduct back on the agenda after initial excitement around the project died down.

“The award has really helped,” says Longworth. “Like any project, when you start it goes off like a rocket and then the momentum slows.

“The award has brought the code back to the fore and we have undergone another round of requests to sign up to the code.

“It has paid off. There is not a day when I do not get an enquiry. We have seen Crawford and Company and and Sedgwick sign up in recent weeks and the code is going through the compliance process at a number of insurers.

“I get enquirers around the code and have notifications that people have signed up [that] I did not know were interested.”

Longworth describes himself as “a big fan of AI”.

He continues: “At this point in time, I do not know where it will take us, but it has got huge potential. The code itself is a method of self-regulation for the industry around how it uses the technology.

“In five years’ time, we may well look back and say how naive we were to fear the use of AI given the benefits it will deliver.”

‘Overwhelming’ accolade

As for the awards evening itself, which Longworth attended with his wife, Longworth admits that he was not expecting to win.

“I have to say I was just delighted to find out I had been nominated,” he says. “I never thought that I would win the award.

“When my name was announced, I was overwhelmed. I have done many things in my 27 years in claims and I hope I have had a positive impact on my clients.

“I really never expected I would receive any industry-wide recognition.”

The market response to the award win has also been incredibly special, Longworth notes.

“So many people congratulated me on the evening and that has continued. A social media post got over 7,000 likes and everywhere I go, I still get people saying well done. I think it speaks to how prestigious the award is.”