Although Neil Utley sees his award as the culmination of an incredible 18-month journey, beginning with his leading Equity's transition from a FTSE-listed company, steering it through an MBO to its recent high-profile acquisition by leading Australian insurer, IAG, he summarises his achievements as a definite team effort.

"We have excellent people at Equity and the award is fitting recognition of their continued support and dedication."

Neil Utley's association with Equity began when he joined as chief executive of Cox Retail Division in 1999.

A former CEO of Privilege Insurance, he has hands-on experience of all aspects of the insurance industry, including sales, direct marketing, product development and management of the retail broker chain.

Under his leadership, the business has more than doubled in five years, across all sectors of underwriting, resulting in a more balanced mix.

Today, Equity is one of the UK's largest motor and household insurers, providing cover for more than a million policyholders. Its flagship brands include online insurer,; Equity Red Star, the Lloyd's underwriting business and Equity Insurance Brokers, its network of 70 high street branches.

Insurance Times editor Elliot Lane said: "The insurance industry has elected Neil Utley for demonstrating the most dedication, executive skill and entrepreneurial spirit over the past 18 months. He is a worthy winner."