After a year of stiff competition, we present the award nominees, the winners and the judges’ views

Graham Plumb

AXA Commercial Lines, Outstanding Insurer Claims Individual of the Year

‘A good claims team can make such a difference to a company’s reputation’

Graham Plumb



“My initial reaction was surprise. I’m retiring this year, I’ll be 60 in October and although I’ve really enjoyed my time in claims, you think, “well, nothing’s going to happen to me at this stage of my career”, so I was remarkably surprised, firstly to be nominated, which was really nice in itself, but then also to actually win.

“Historically, claims has been viewed as the poor relation of insurance. People have tended to ignore us. We’re the guys that spend all the money that the others bring in, so we’ve always been a little bit in the background. I think it’s really good that in the last two or three years we’ve seen far more concentration on claims and how a good claims team can make such a difference to the results and reputation of a company.

“Surrounding yourself with people who have the right skills and the right approach is absolutely essential, but so is keeping an eye on what’s going on and getting involved yourself. You can’t sit back and let things happen to you, you need to go out and influence what is happening.

“You have to be the one that’s driving the agenda. Internally we do that by being innovative in the way we settle claims, and trying to come up with new thoughts on how to be as effective as possible.”

Graham Plumb is claims technical manager, large loss, at AXA


Mike Lee

Hastings Direct, Outstanding Broker Individual of the Year, Personal Lines

‘I’ve brought a bit of attention to how important claims are’

Mike Lee



“Winning was a genuine surprise, it was a very nice thing to happen. I’ve joined a very good team of people at Hastings, and that’s what’s helped me along. I came into Hastings almost a year ago, and since then I’ve tried to shape the strategy that was somewhat already underway. I’ve also got some very enthusiastic and skilled managers who work with me in the claims team at the moment.

“I think the biggest challenges are around the changing legal environment. In addition, the market is beginning to flatten out in pricing terms. There are various enquiries from government agencies around referral fee income and sales of ancillaries, all of which are just challenges that good brokers will continue to adapt to in order to provide a good quality service.

“A long-term approach of investing in claims will see pricing improvements over time, and will allow us to become a more competitive business overall. The main thing I’ve done is brought a bit of attention to how important claims are.

“The next big thing on the agenda in our claims department is probably our system replacement. We’ve got a robust system at the moment, but what I’d like to do is take us to the next level with something that involves more imaging and improved workflow to make us more efficient, and help reduce claims’ costs.”

Mike Lee is managing director of Hastings Direct Insurer Services


Jon Newall

Lockyer, Outstanding Broker Individual of the Year, Commercial Lines

‘If the client is as happy as possible throughout the claim, they will renew’


Jon Newall

“When I won, my first thought was that I have an abject fear of public speaking, so I thought: oh no! I was scared and happy at the same time.

“We use the claims process as a client-retention and sales tool. If you make sure that the client is as happy as possible throughout the claim, and everything gets settled as quickly as possible, then they will renew with you, and it’s likely that they’ll tell their friends about how good you were.

“Also, we don’t separate things. The client’s claim handler is also their account handler. So rather than having an account handler who’s just doing the accounts, they actually have fewer clients and are doing the claims as well.

“This is because it gives the person who’s dealing with the claim a full knowledge of the client’s portfolio of insurance and their needs.
If it’s a fairly major claim, then the client can be a bit distressed so it’s good to have a friendly voice rather than having to start again with someone that they’ve never spoken to before.

“Our focus is on listening to what customers want, and then doing it. We’re a very flexible firm, there are nine of us now, and there’s a
sort of democracy. It empowers the staff, and gives us all a place to share our ideas for how to better the business.”

Jon Newall is principal of Lockyer