Swiss giant Zurich has been crowned UK general insurer of the year in the Insurance Industry Awards 2000.

Zurich is the first winner of the award under the new tougher voting system that has involved several bouts of market research rather than just a voting free-for-all, making Zurich, without doubt, the broker's favourite.

Zurich stole the show in Birmingham on Friday, scooping six individual categories after being short-listed in several more. It was named winner for private motor insurer, engineering insurer, commercial motor insurer, private motor claims handler, commercial motor claims handler and best broker support package.

The company looked as if it would run out of executives to collect its prizes and by the end of the evening and the final award – the most

coveted award in the UK general insurance industry – the audience was already certain who was going to win.

But when compere Clive Anderson and Stuart Wright, sales director of credit managers and award
sponsors OCM, announced the winner, Zurich was visibly delighted.

Speaking after the celebrations had finished, Zurich Financial Services chief executive Sandy Leitch said: “Our aim is to gain a clear leadership position in the UK financial services industry and we are well on the way to achieving this.”

Leitch insisted it was the company's efforts to boost customer service in a market rather than falling standards elsewhere that won Zurich the day. “A key element of our strategy is to provide the best service possible to our customers and our intermediaries – these awards demonstrate this strategy is clearly working,” he said.

The company made clear that it would not rest on its laurels and would be fighting to retain the title next year.

Zurich's prize topped a night of 30 awards with winners coming from the large and the small within the industry and its service providers.

Insurance Industry Awards Winners:

n Private Motor Insurer – Zurich
n Personal Lines Insurer – Chubb
n Private Medical Insurer – Royal &
Sunalliance/Standard Life
n Engineering Insurer – Zurich
n Commercial Lines Insurer – Independent
n Commercial Motor Insurer – Zurich
n Personal Lines Claims – Chubb
n Private Motor Claims – Zurich
n Commercial Lines Claims – Independent
n Commercial Motor Claims – Zurich
n Law Firm – Davies Lavery
n Lloyd's Motor – Crowe
n Lloyd's Non-Marine – RJ Wallace
n Loss Adjuster – Property & Casualty Services
n Risk Management Initiative – Hart Owens
n Premium Finance – Finsure/Prompt
n Uninsured Loss Recovery – Uninsured Loss
n Legal Expenses – DAS/Motorist Services (MSL)
n Best New Product – Engine Breakdown Cover
n Best Broker Support Package – Royal and
n Best Trade Ad Campaign – Allianz Cornhill
n Best Consumer Ad Campaign – Chubb
n Insurance Website – Wildnet (
n Broker Marketing Campaign – JLT Corproate
n Best Broker Innovation – Dickson Insurance
n Technology Initiative – Donns Solicitors
n Training Programme – Cox Insurance Retail
n Young Achiever – Alison Hoyes, Hart Owens
n Insurance Personality – Reg Brown
n Insurer of the Year – Zurich