It’s that time again: prepare your entries for the industry’s most prestigious accolade

What makes an award worth winning? The answer is simple: the integrity and robustness of the judging process.

Two different systems are used to judge the Insurance Times Awards. For 18 of the categories, the winner is determined via a two-stage process. In the first phase, a panel of judges selects finalists based on entrants’ written submissions. In the second, the finalists are invited to present to a different set of judges, allowing for the opportunity to raise questions.

Four more categories are judged by a robust survey in which insurers are put before their toughest judges – the brokers – who determine the winners by nominating and scoring their insurer clients through a series of questions.

The Industry Achiever of the Year, meanwhile, is given to an outstanding individual who has contributed to the industry for many years.

With categories for insurers, brokers, intermediaries and service providers such as loss adjusters and claim managers, the Insurance Times Awards is the largest in the UK industry.

Anton Manley, managing director of Smart Co at Kwik Fit, said of the awards: “Success in 2008 was a real bonus for Kwik Fit and Smart Co in particular. In my opinion, the Insurance Times Awards are central to our industry and seeking recognition in these awards should be high on the agenda of insurers and intermediaries alike.”

It is worth noting that Kwik Fit, an organisation with fewer than 1,000 employees, won Customer Service Initiative of the Year. These are awards for everyone, not just the biggest players in the industry.

John Kitson, sales and marketing director of Norwich Union, said of the insurer’s success: “We’re thrilled to pick up General Insurer of the Year for the sixth year. It’s only fitting that in our last year as Norwich Union, we are recognised for the excellent service and products we offer.

“Brokers are the life blood of our business, so this award – voted for by brokers – is especially gratifying. It’s really a vote of thanks to the thousands of members of our staff who work alongside our brokers day in, day out.”

So if your organisation has something to shout about – an exceptional individual at the helm or a department that is excelling – get that recognised at this year’s awards.

Neil Grimshaw, managing director of Ravenhall Risk Solutions, who won the New Achiever of the Year and the Broker’s Broker Award in 2008, said: “To be considered worthy of an award by your peers is an amazing experience, but to win two awards on the night leaves me lost for words.”

Being named as a finalist in any category is an enormous achievement. Aside from the association with innovation, business ethics, superior service and commercial success, finalists find themselves in excellent company – the award sponsors and finalists are some of the brightest and most forward-thinking organisations in UK insurance.

Chris Dobson is distribution and development director at Fortis, which sponsored the 2008 Personal Lines Broker of the Year. He said: “This award represents the strength and drive that personal lines brokers deliver when facing the challenges in the marketplace. They deserve the recognition for their contribution to the market.

“We remain impressed by the enthusiasm and in-depth knowledge that brokers have of their customers’ needs.”

The Insurance Times Awards also reflect the many ways in which different companies across the industry work together. Liz Latter, director and head of credit risk practice at CGI, which won Technology Initiative of the Year, said: “This has been a real collaboration between CGI, Allianz and Norwich Union, and their brokers to create what is now becoming a market solution.”

Changes in the way businesses operate have led to the addition of categories such as the Corporate Sustainability Award. The judging panel looked for evidence of a coherent commitment to corporate sustainability, reflected in core management strategy and everyday operations.

The prize was won by DAS last year and chief executive Paul Asplin said: “We feel very strongly about our corporate responsibility programme and have set ourselves some tough but essential targets in a range of areas. We are pleased that our dedication to this has been recognised.”

Another addition to the programme was the E-Business Award, which focused on the effective use of electronic business and its direct link to a competitive advantage. Caroline Spindlove of Confused.com, which won the prize, said: “We take pride in being innovative and recognition in a category with such distinguished competition is a benchmark to success.”

Securing what is arguably an organisation’s most important asset – its people – has become a priority in recent years. Benedict Burke, chief executive of Crawford & Company, UK & Ireland, said: “We were delighted to win the Training Programme of the Year. Winning the war for talent is a goal that Crawford is taking seriously.”

Explaining the initiative submitted by Crawford, Burke added: “Our entry focused on initiatives relating to the development of our emerging leaders and technical specialists.”

The importance of a strong team was also highlighted by Joe Plumeri, chairman and chief executive of Willis Group Holdings, one of the two recipients of the Industry Achiever of the Year in 2008. Plumeri said Willis’s success was the collective achievement of its 20,000-strong staff.

As the industry faces up to tough economic challenges, it is even more important to celebrate success, innovation and best practice. Shân Millie, publishing director of Insurance Times, said: “The 2008 Insurance Times Awards programme truly showcased the stellar achievers of the industry. We now look forward to 2009 with the same sense of anticipation in unveiling the organisations and individuals who will shine.”

The 2009 categories

The finalists and winner of the following awards will be determined via brokers’ scores using a survey study:
General Insurer of the Year
Commercial Lines Insurer of the Year
Motor Insurer of the Year
Personal Lines Insurer of the Year.

The finalists and winner of the following award will be determined via insurers’ scores using a survey study:
National Broker of the Year.

The following categories are open for entries via written submissions:
Broker/Intermediary Innovation
Claims Initiative
Commercial Lines Broker
Customer Service Initiative
Independent Regional Broker
Insurer Innovation
Loss Adjuster
New Entrant
Personal Lines Broker
Risk Management Initiative
Service Provider
Technology Initiative
Training Programme
New Achiever of the Year
Corporate Sustainability Award
E-Business Award
Underwriter/Lloyd’s Syndicate of the Year
The Broker’s Broker

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