As reforms and revamps hit the headlines, the oft-forgotten claims sector is ready for its close-up. From the enthusiastic newcomers to the industry stalwarts,we present the characters having a real influence

It is no secret that claims has often been shoved to the sidelines to make way for the more glamorous sales and underwriting. But this year, the red carpet has been laid down and the spotlight is shining bright. Lord Justice Jackson’s radical proposals, speculation over the impact of the impending Ministry of Justice reforms, and the roll-out of a pilot transformation project at Lloyd’s means that claims is finally enjoying its time in the sun.

But who will be the leading characters? In the Insurance Times top 20 personalities in claims, we look at the people who have shaped the sector and those who are poised to make their mark. Spanning insurers, brokers, loss adjusters and the legal and political arenas, the top 20 is a spectrum of individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences and aptitudes, but who share a marked influence on the sector.

The list honours industry long-timers who have left a legacy, along with newcomers who have the enviable opportunity to make a real and enduring difference. It celebrates those who have raised their profile to become powerful spokespeople on a range of issues affecting the sector and those who have worked quietly behind the scenes to ensure the delivery of excellent performance and service. An exciting journey lies ahead for the claims sector and the top 20 are set to lead the way. IT


Lord Justice Jackson

Over the past year, one man’s name has loomed larger than any other within the claims community. As Lord Justice Jackson’s long-awaited review of the civil costs process was unveiled at the start of the year, the recommendations proved much more radical than many anticipated. If Jackson gets his way, the sector could see the most dramatic overhaul of the claims process yet, including the scrapping of referral fees. Born in 1948, Jackson was called to the Bar in 1972 and appointed a deputy High Court judge in 1993. He was appointed a judge of the High Court in 1999 and Lord Justice of Appeal in 2008, after which he was asked by Master of Rolls Anthony Clarke to conduct a review of civil costs. Jackson has admitted that the prospect of his report potentially being dropped in the dustbin if the Conservatives come to power has weighed on his mind. “I would be naïve to say that it is a thought that has never occurred to me and that I had not lost a few winks of sleep,” he says. But, while the future of his proposals and their impact on insurance remains uncertain, there is no doubt that Jackson’s impression on the claims sector will be lasting.

Lord Hunt

A member of the House of Lords, Hunt is one of the industry’s most powerful political allies. As officer of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Insurance and Financial Services, he is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences on insurance and reinsurance. Hunt is a fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and was president of the CII from 2007 to 2008. In 2004, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Insurance Times Awards. “Lord Hunt has been a massive supporter for all sorts of claims issues, has spoken on behalf of the industry in the House Of Lords and, with his firm, has provided an awful lot of support to the industry and still does,” AXA’s David Williams says.


John Bell, claims director, Aon

In 2000, Bell joined broking giant Aon as claims director after a 12-year career as regional director for GAB Robins. Prior to that, he worked at Richards Brooks McLaren and Robins, Davies & Little. Over the past 10 years, Bell has become one of the best-known claims personalities in the broking arena. Due to leave the company, he sees his greatest achievements as being an ambassador for Aon and the wider industry.

Barry Jones, claims leader, Marsh

At Marsh, Jones is directly responsible for claims services across its entire UK business, covering diverse areas such as energy, aviation, UK retail and marine hull/cargo. Jones joined the broker in April 2008 from Lockton, where he worked for 12 years as head of claims.

Simon Gifford, claims director, Towergate

Known for his affable manner, Gifford joined Towergate in September 2006 as claims director, quickly becoming a high-profile commentator on claims issues in the wake of the 2007 flooding. He started his career with Commercial Union and worked at Marsh for seven years as a claims consultant and client executive.


David Williams, managing director of claims, AXA

Since becoming AXA’s claims director in 2003, Williams has become one of the best-known names in the business – most notably lobbying on behalf of the industry to remove costs and delay from the compensation process. Outspoken in his views on credit hire, he hopes that in five years, “credit hire will no longer exist” and last year he stage-managed the insurer’s controversial withdrawal from the GTA. Elsewhere, AXA is now taking on the Scottish government and challenging its decision on pleural plaques. During his 20-year career at AXA, Williams’ roles have included chief commercial underwriter and casualty insurance manager. Last year, AXA scooped the gong for Best Claims Initiative at the Insurance Times Awards. “I think AXA are doing some good things at the moment in driving the customer experience, and David is part of that overall strategy,” Lorega chief executive John Sims says.

Rob Smale, claims director, Fortis

Originally qualified as a mining engineer, Smale joined Aviva in 1996, going on to become claims operations director in 2000. He joined Fortis in 2003 as claims director with responsibility for almost 1,000 staff. In recent years, the insurer has built up an enviable record for claim handling, helping to cement its good reputation among brokers. This year will see additional challenges for Smale in the wake of Fortis’s mammoth affinity deal with Tesco.

“I think the reputation of Fortis’s motor claims handling has been really, really outstanding over the years, and Rob Smale is very focused on the process methodologies of claims handling,” AXA’s David Williams says.

Andrew McBride, claims director, QBE European Operations

McBride joined QBE in 2005 and is responsible for all claims operations for the European operations. Under his leadership, QBE was one of the first insurers in the UK to offer rehabilitation services for both major and minor injuries. McBride began his career with Guardian Royal Exchange in 1987. Following its acquisition by AXA in 1999, he became claims technical manager of AXA Global Risks and AXA Corporate Solutions. He worked within the AXA Group until he moved to Aon in 2002 as director of claims management in the UK.

Lynn George, UK and Ireland claims manager, Chubb

George joined Chubb in 2008 and was appointed as UK and Ireland claims manager the following year. Arguably her big challenge is to maintain and build on the insurer’s enviable reputation, which saw it take the prestigious award of General Insurer of the Year at the 2009 Insurance Times Awards. Originally from Belfast, George began her career in insurance as a trainee with Guardian Royal Exchange. Later, she held the role of claims inspector at Zurich, before joining Independent Insurance as London Market claims manager. Prior to joining Chubb, George was London claims manager for Capita. “Chubb’s claims service is lauded as being very, very good and that is part of the culture, but the actual day-to-day pushing of that is down to the UK and Ireland claims manager,” Lorega’s John Sims says.

Phil Bird, director of claims, Groupama

Bird may only have become claims director in 2008 but he has already become a high-profile commentator on issues affecting the claims sector. An economics graduate, he began in insurance with Guardian Royal Exchange in the London Market. In 1996, Bird joined Guardian Direct as household underwriting manager and, following the merger with AXA, became household underwriting manager for all distribution lines. Phil joined Groupama Insurances in 2004 as director of non-motor and SME underwriting. “Phil has come from the underwriting side, which is a fresh approach. He can see things from both sides, which is quite important,” Towergate’s Simon Gifford says.

Dominic Clayden, director of claims, Aviva

As head of the biggest UK insurer’s claims operations. Clayden is seen as having the plummest role in the sector. Originally qualified as a solicitor dealing with claimant and defendant personal injury, he moved into claims management when he joined Aviva in 1998. Over the past 10 years, he has been involved in all of the major negotiations relating to personal injury reform in the UK.

Graham Gibson, director of claims, Allianz

Gibson joined Allianz as director of claims in June 2008 after 13 years of heading claims at Groupama. Despite keeping a low profile in recent months, Gibson’s sphere of influence is wide. As member of the Civil Justice Council, the ABI High Level Working Group (HLG) and the CII’s claims faculty advisory board, he is seen as one of the industry’s foremost experts on claims-related issues. “Graham Gibson did a great job in Groupama and he has inherited a great team and structure at Allianz, so it will be interesting to see how he does. He is a very knowledgeable and he seems to do very well. The claim proposition at Allianz is very strong. The company has invested a lot in training – in people and in being technically confident – and it is now starting to reap the benefits,” Towergate’s Simon Gifford says.

Kent Chaplin, head of claims, Lloyd's

This year, Chaplin is steering the first pilot of the claims transformation in the Lloyd’s marketplace, overhauling the long-established processes and protocols on select classes on business. If deemed a success, the project will be rolled out across the market in 2012. Originally from New Zealand, Chaplin qualified as a barrister and solicitor in insurance before relocating to the UK in 1996. He joined Aon’s professional risks division before taking up the job at Lloyd's in October 2004. “He has quite a challenge, in a very significant but also quite complex marketplace, to maintain a consistent approach to claims while continuing to improve the quality of service. He has probably one of the most complex jobs in the business and does a very good job,” Airmic’s John Hurrell says.

Steve Maddock, managing director of claims, RBSI (pending)

Maddock’s leap from RSA to RBSI could be this year’s ‘big move’. Maddock has been director of strategic and technical claims at RSA since 2004, and industry players are eager to see where he will lead RBSI. He was previously director of claims and customer service at Capita and director of operations at AMP Pearl. “He is clearly very good at what he does. It is a big move to RBSI and it will be fascinating to see how he shapes it,” Towergate’s Simon Gifford says.

Peter Horton, claims director, LV=

In a career spanning 30 years, Horton is leaving his mark on the industry. As managing director of claims at RBSI, he managed three million claims a year, with an annual spend of £4.3bn. He oversaw the integration of the Churchill Group and Direct Line Group claims operations under the banner of RBSI. Now, in his role at LV=, he has earned kudos for improving the company’s previously poor record on claims handling and introduced cost savings of £25m.


Benedict Burke, chief executive for UK and Ireland, Crawford & Company

Over the past two decades, Burke has forged a reputation as one of the strongest personalities in the business. As one source notes: “When you think of a loss adjuster, you think of Burke.” In 1981, Burke joined GAB Robins as a trainee adjuster, rising to become chief executive in 2000. He then joined Crawford in April 2003 as managing director, where he had operational responsibility across all product lines in the UK. In 2006, he became chief operating officer for UK and Ireland and also led the acquisition of Specialist Liability Services. In 2008, he became Crawford’s chief executive officer for the UK and Ireland. “He has got huge experience … he is larger than life. He is a gregarious character and knows practically everybody,” Towergate’s Simon Gifford says.

Keith Wise, head of major loss, Garwyn

After a 20-year career dealing with all classes of liability business, Wise regularly handles multimillion-pound liability claims in the UK, USA, Europe and Middle East, and has devised claims-handling protocols for government and the nuclear industry. Recenty, he played a key role in the investigation of the Buncefield disaster of 2005. The development of the Garwyn direct claimant service led to the company winning the award for Loss Adjuster of the Year at the Insurance Times Awards 2009.

Kieran Rigby, chief executive of GAB Robins Group

Chief executive of GAB Robins Group in the UK, and boating aficionado, Rigby is widely lauded as helping the company steer clear of the rocks. In April 2009, he led a management buy-out, in part to help the company counter its pension deficit. The business today comprises the core UK claims management and loss adjusting operation, the GAB Robins’ global markets team and specialist GAB Robins Aviation Ltd. He previously managed the GAB Robins business in Ireland before moving with his family to Sydney for several years to run the Australian business. He returned to London at the end of 2005 to lead UK operations. Rigby is a fellow of the CII and Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters, and a former president of the European Federation of Loss Adjusting Experts.

Graham Burgess, president, Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters

Burgess took up the reins at CILA last year after a 35-year career in the industry. He joined GAB Robins as an engineering graduate, rising through the ranks to head the commercial team before becoming UK technical director in 2000. “The president of CILA is always going to be a very influential figure in loss adjusting. It is a position that carries gravitas,” Airmic’s John Hurrell says.

Gerry Loughney, chairman, Cunningham Lindsey

After 40 years in the business, Loughney’s name is synonymous with loss adjusting. At Ellis & Buckle, he established its specialist adjusting unit and oversaw the merger of Ellis & Buckle and Cunningham UK. In 2002, he led a market solution following the business failure of Miller Fisher loss adjusters. In 2008, he was presented with a British Insurance Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the claims sector. “When you think of Cunningham Lindsey, 90% of people in the market still think of Gerry,” AXA’s David Williams says.