Blog: Need a new CEO? You could do worse than look at your claims manager


  • Claims professionals used to be less well represented than underwriters at the executive level
  • Allianz and Aviva have promoted claims directors as UK bosses
  • Could you meet other future CEOs at the Post Claims Club dinner?

Roll back six years and I remember David Williams, on taking a new role as director of underwriting at Axa, calling for parity in remuneration between claims professionals and others.

Asked whether he believes claims employees are valued as equally as others, the then outgoing Axa claims guru responded: “At Axa and some other insurers at a senior level [they are] but, if I am honest, claims staff are generally less well regarded than underwriters.

“Although that will get corrected over time, and despite now being back in underwriting, I have to stand by what I believe in: claims needs to become more valued and better represented at an executive level.”

Well, it would appear the correction he spoke about is definitely in full swing.

In January, Rob Townend stepped up from UK claims director of Aviva to become managing director of UK general insurance and, in doing so, wrote the latest chapter in what has been a notable turnaround in terms of equality for claims folk.

In 2013, one time Allianz claims director Jon Dye took over from Andrew Torrance as UK CEO, and a year later one of his former colleagues at Chubb, Jalil Rehman, became European boss there.

Williams had noted that claims handling had a poor reputation because that function was – wrongly – seen as a cost rather than “the service promise we are actually selling in an insurance policy”.

However, he did predict with the regulator’s growing interest in claims and customers, things were likely to change.

And that is not just in terms of the people at the top. By being at the coal face, claims professionals also make great candidates when it comes to finding people to lead transformation across a business, such as Rob Smale at Ageas.

Two years ago, one of Townend’s predecessors Patrick Snowball bemoaned UK’s general insurers are suffering because their boards have turned the businesses into pseudo-banks, stuffed full of actuaries, accountants and bankers.

Maybe the dawn of the claims manager turned boardroom leader might change that.

Post Claims Club dinner

With spaces running out, if you are a senior claims manager and want to attend the 2018 Post Claims Club dinner, you’d better sign up soon. Taking place on Thursday 8 March at Gibson Hall, in the City of London, it is one of the must-attend events in the insurance calendar. And a good place to network with the insurance CEOs of the future… maybe!!!

Jonathan Swift 100x115

Jonathan Swift @InsuranceSwifty

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