Insurance Times was back again yesterday for the last of its virtual awards ceremonies of 2020 as it celebrated innovation and excellence across general insurance, did you make the cut?

In the biggest event of 2020 for the general insurance industry, Insurance Times did not disappoint, returning virtually for a third time this year with a new set of winners with 39 spangly trophies up for grabs across 24 categories.

Attendees were subject to a virtual excursion hosted by comedian and impressionist Jon Culshaw – best known for the radio comedy Dead Ringers.

Opening the event, Tim Potter, managing director of Newsquest Specialist Media and publisher of Insurance Times reflected on the “tough environment” that the insurance market faced in 2020, highlighting that many of the awards recognise that firms have gone the extra mile under the most challenging circumstances.

And presenting one of the most prestigious awards – the Insurance Times Industry Achiever to Admiral Group’s chief executive, David Stevens, Potter added that the insurer had “acted quickly” to lower claims during the pandemic lockdown, as well as gifting his staff force with a £10m pay-out during his retirement. 

David Stevens, Admiral’s group chief executive told Insurance Times: ”To receive the Industry Achiever Award in my last year at Admiral is the icing on the cake. It’s been an amazing, fulfilling, rewarding and happy 25 years in the business. It’s nice to get personal recognition, but particularly for Admiral, which has been on an amazing journey over those years and over my five years as group chief executive.”

The award for Direct-to-Consumer Business of the Year went to Admiral Group – made it a second win for the firm yesterday.

”Having our successes recognised is something I’m truly proud of. 2020 has been a great year of achievement for looking after our customers, staff and shareholders and the recognition for this belongs with the UK team and our UK Insurance chief executive, Cristina Nestares who worked together and responded so well to the covid crisis and particularly the Stay at Home Customer Refund,” he continued. 

Meanwhile the award for Broker CEO’s CEO of the Year which recognises a stand-out chief executive, went to David Howden at Howden Group Holdings, the category saw stiff competition from By Miles’s James Blackman, GRP’s Mike Bruce, Gallagher’s Simon Matson and Ardonagh’s David Ross. 

David Howden, chief executive at Howden Group Holdings said he was ”thrilled” to receive the award. He added it was ”made particularly special as it is peer-voted and in a year in which we have all faced such challenges – thank you very much. I can only say that our success in this most challenging of years is down to the hard work and collaborative spirit of everyone in the group”.

Insurer CEO’s CEO of the Year went to Geoff Carter at Sabre Insurance, Carter was up against the likes of Zurich’s Tulsi Naidu, QBE’s Richard Pryce, Covéa’s James Reader and Markel’s William Stovin.

This year the awards were sponsored by ACORD, Applied Systems, Aviva, Ageas, Carpenters Group and Markerstudy.

Going for gold

Markel won three awards yesterday including two golds – one for Commercial Lines Insurer of the Year; and another gold for Customer Champion of the Year – Insurer following a “huge campaign, rapidly put together to help brokers advise clients how best to deal with Covid,” the judges said.

And Markel also scooped a silver award for Insurer Innovation of the Year, but Collective Benefits walked away (virtually) with the gold and the judges touting the agility and innovation in its solution being “off the moment,” whereas CFC Underwriting got the bronze.

Ageas won two awards, a silver for Customer Champion of the Year – Insurer, with Zurich bagging the bronze.

Ageas also saw a gold for Excellence in Technology – Claims for a “highly innovative” claims solution according to the judges, meanwhile SBS Insurance won the silver and FloodFlash, the bronze.

Aviva saw two golds, one for Excellence in Professional Development after “an impressive programme” for brokers, and another for General Insurer of the Year.

Broker Bollington also won two awards – a gold for Commercial Lines Broker of the Year after “a strong acquisition performance” according to the judges, with Clear Insurance bagging the silver and Ethos Broking, the bronze.

Bollington also scooped a silver for Independent Broker of the Year, Bollington’s group chief executive, Paul Moors said he was ”absolutely delighted” to have won these awards. He added: ”In this highly unusual year, it is great to finish on a high. Our staff have responded exceptionally well in difficult circumstances. It’s great to see their efforts recognised by the industry.

”We are all dedicated to supporting our clients and communities with the highest levels of service, facing challenges head-on together. I wish everyone connected with our business good health and prosperity as we move into 2021. These awards are for you all.”

But it was Romero Insurance Brokers that won the gold for Independent Broker of the Year for the second year in a row, with the judges pointing out it recognised that “investing in employee happiness” resulting in better customer retention.

Simon Mabb, managing director at NDML and Romero said: ”This is an amazing achievement, and will hopefully bring a positive end to what has been undoubtedly a very challenging year for all our colleagues & clients. And the result is especially rewarding knowing our sister company Romero has brought home Independent Broker of the Year for the second year in a row.

”These awards are all about the dedicated people working across our business to do what’s right for our clients, and I’m so proud of all of them for helping us achieve this. Special mention must also go to Michael Kill and everyone at the Night Time Industries Association who have stood shoulder to shoulder with us in the fight to protect our industry.”

Brokers Club Insure and NDML also walked away with a gold for Customer Champion of the Year – Broker, with the judges being impressed that the pair were supporting an entire industry rather than a singular client. Lockyers won the silver and AllClear Insurance, the bronze.

But Mabb added that the ”work isn’t over and the road to recovery is a long one,” the broker will continue to fighting at every step for its clients until they’re all standing strong once again.

A gold award for Best Digital Customer Experience went to AA Insurance. The gold for Business Partner of the Year went to Acturis with Zurich Insurance for the pair’s e-trading proposition.

Goodlord and DAS UK Group were awarded a gold for Claims Partner of the Year, the judges thought the entry was “topical” as the pair developed a legal expenses product and a system for handling the backlog. Meanwhile, SBS won the silver for this award – its second silver win yesterday and QuestGates, the bronze.

With mental health top of its agenda, health insurer Bupa walked away with a gold for the Diversity & Inclusion Excellence Award, for its active stance with claims demonstrating that the customer is at its heart, the judges said.

PremFina, won a gold for Excellence in Technology for its white-label on-demand premium finance solution for cash-strapped customers, the judges said it provided during the pandemic. 

A gold for Excellence in Technology – Service Provider went to Solera Audatex for applying efficiency to claims. Whereas insurtech CDL got the silver and Automated Insurance Solutions and DAC Beachcroft, the bronze.

Paymentshield won a gold for Marketing Campaign of the Year – B2B for its “professional campaign”.

Meanwhile, Tempcover bagged a gold for Marketing Campaign of the Year – B2C for its campaign that used “extremely sophisticated and complex” data, with Ripe Thinking getting the silver.

The Personal Lines Broker of the Year award saw Ripe Thinking win its second award yesterday, getting a gold this time for its “fresh look” at insurance, Staysure got the silver.

John Woosey, founder and managing director of Ripe Thinking, said: “We’re thrilled with our double win, to receive gold in the Personal Lines Broker of the Year category for the second year running is fantastic.

”Our industry-leading technology and insight means that we deliver top-quality products and excellent customer service. So to have this recognised by our peers once again is a real achievement, especially after such a challenging year! When we can, we’ll be raising a glass with our dynamic and dedicated team, without whom none of this would be possible.”

For MGA Initiative of the Year, FloodFlash won the gold for its “use of parametric insurance” which helped customers get faster pay-outs – the insurtech’s second win yesterday, while CFC Underwriting won its second silver, and C-Quence the bronze.

Adam Rimmer, FloodFlash’s co-founder said: ”The team has crushed it this year. We are setting the standard for claims that help clients survive this period of massive financial upheaval. This award is the evidence and I couldn’t be prouder.”

And Personal Lines Insurer of the Year saw AXA awarded the gold.