There will be no recount, no chads, no questionable dimples and no hand counts. The UK general insurer of the year is Zurich.

Zurich stormed the Insurance Industry Awards this year, scooping seven awards in total, including the top honour. But the likes of giants Norwich Union and Axa were nowhere in sight.

How can this be? Where were all the great names? The answer lies in service standards. Zurich has been able to demonstrate service standards to its intermediary community that have outstripped its rivals. In every broker-voted category, it was abundantly clear that the intermediaries were not endorsing their biggest customers or even flattering their friends. They were voting for customer service.

Chubb, the posh people's insurer, stole the personal lines claims and personal lines insurer. Yet Chubb is a niche player, not the mainstream insurer normally picking up such awards.

The reasons are plain. Customers like the way Chubb deals with them, and happy customers are what brokers want. They may only deal with a few Chubb enquiries a year but many brokers could easily distinguish between the service they received from Chubb and the service they had from others.

Zurich has achieved similar plaudits despite its larger size and more middle-of-the-road audience.

And in return, the awards offered better service standards than previous year. Brokers were called and asked questions, not just given blank voting forms and left to it. The research was repeated, to check the results. And, finally, it was checked again, at vast expense, but to ensure the result was correct. The results were well-appreciated.

The lesson is clear. Insurers that want to win awards next year had better concentrate on their service standards. Otherwise the only award for them will be the wooden spoon.