This week, our insider helps Towergate celebrate its 15th birthday and parties the night away at the Insurance Times Technology in Insurance awards

From small acorns

Towergate celebrated its birthday at the Sky Bar in the swish Grange St Pauls hotel in London last week. Guests were treated to a tale of how a “wet behind the ears” Norwich Union finance director named Mark Hodges (pictured) nervously signed off on a £10m loan to a stranger called Peter Cullum 15 years ago to set up Towergate. “I was crapping myself,” Mark recalled. I wonder if he ever imagined that the resulting firm would end up paying his wages?

Ring master

I caught up with my old police pal Dave Wood of the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) this week. Dave is also the founder, chairman and coach of the City of London Police and Community boxing club, and he once used the club as a wind-up. In a meeting with some insurance bods in the club’s training hall, Dave was asked if the IFED had an appeal process for cases it turns down. He pulled some curtains aside to reveal the boxing ring. “Anyone with reason to challenge one of my decisions is welcome to take it forward,” he said.

Meek speaker

I heard Lloyds Banking Group director of insurance Toby Strauss speak at an ABI regulation event recently. Strauss jokingly said that he wasn’t sure why ABI boss Otto Thoresen thought it would be wise to invite a banker to lecture on good service to customers. “I played golf with him at the weekend and that didn’t work out too well either.”

Racing ahead

I’m more au fait with cruising along in a Bentley than the antics of Formula 1 racing. Not so for Max Chilton, the son of Aon Benfield chairman and Aon Group vice-chairman Grahame Chilton. Max has just been appointed as Marussia’s reserve driver for the rest of the season, and may be on the grid for next year.

Sporting spirit

I popped along to the first round of the Insurance Times Broker Mind quiz, their take on Mastermind. I then caught up with two contestants, Lockyers principal Jon Newall and Knightsure managing director Tony Knight, whose specialist subjects were Formula 1 racing driver Ayrton Senna and comedian Tony Hancock, respectively. Both are members of Broker Network. Newall said that if he were going to be beaten, he wanted to be beaten by Knight to ensure an overall “Broker Network one-two”. That’s the spirit.


I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the Insurance Times Technology in Insurance Awards event overlooking London from one of the top floors of the Millbank Tower. The view was fantastic - I could almost see all my houses from up there. Big congratulations to Aviva technology innovation manager Paul Heybourne for scooping the technology champion of the year, and all the other winners on the night. It really was a splendid evening.