Michael Bright punched the air in triumph last Friday evening as Independent Insurance was named Best Insurer Overall in the 1999 Insurance Industry Awards.

It was the culmination to an extraordinary evening of dominance by Bright's company. Independent had already walked away with eight other awards in the broker-voted categories. And it was also shortlisted finalists in the three other voting categories.

Bright made no secret of his delight in retaining the Best Insurer trophy, which he has now picked up six times in the past seven years. Being voted the broker's favourite has always mattered intensely to the man who has built his empire on satisfying the best brokers in the country.

Independent's wins came in best commercial lines insurer; best personal lines insurer; best liability insurer; best property insurer; best commercial lines claims service; best new product – personal lines – private client risk management; best advertising campaign (shared with Axa); and best commercial broker marketing support, with wish lists. To add further sweetness to the victories, PCS, the loss adjuster in which it has a major stake, won top loss adjuster.

Of the other major insurers, Norwich Union picked up best private motor insurer and best private motor claims handling; Axa took best software innovative product, shared the best advertising campaign award and its healthcare provider PPP took top private medical insurer; and CGU won best broker/intermediary support package – personal lines, and shared top commercial motor insurer with Zurich Commercial. RSA was top engineering insurer.

Although Independent stole the evening, there were many other notable winners in both the voted and judged categories. NIG Skandia, which recently performed extremely well in the BIBA satisfaction survey, won best personal lines claims service. Crowe Insurance group was the top Lloyd's motor syndicate.

Premium Credit took top premium finance provider. RE Brown won best new product – commercial lines. And DAS took top ULR service and top legal expenses provider.

Amongst the brokers, Saxon Direct took best broker/intermediary innovation and best broker web site. Budget Insurance Services shared best broker/intermediary use of technology with Edgar Hamilton & Wellard.

Barry Fehler's South Essex Insurance Brokers walked away with two awards: best broker/intermediary marketing campaign and best broker/intermediary customer care, which it shared with Mike Slack's Road Runner.

Tony Cornell, formerly CGU's head of broker relations and now an Insurance Times columnist, drew one of the loudest cheers of the night, when he was named Insurance Personality of the Year.
- See page eight for pictures and winners. Our web site at: www.insurancetimes.co.uk also contains full details.