With the venue a short distance from the prime minister's official residence at 10 Downing St. and yards from Parliament, U.K. risk managers could not have pitched their tent closer to the seat of political power this year. For the first time since the 1980s, the Association of Insurance and Risk Managers held its annual conference in London, choosing the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster.
But politics hardly featured on the agenda. Instead, AIRMIC focused on two initiatives: upping pressure on insurers and brokers to improve service levels, and launching an enterprise risk management evaluation.
Geoff Taylor, AIRMIC's outgoing chairman, said the organization represented members in talks with U.K. regulatory watchdog the Financial Services Authority on contract certainty and broker remuneration. It would now discuss claims with the FSA and benchmarking through a willingness-to-pay index, which would assess the individual performances of insurers in claims settlements.
Earlier this year, Paul Hopkin, the trade group's technical director, said that insurers' track records on paying claims varies considerably, but risk managers lack data on the issue that might otherwise influence their choice when placing business.
And AIRMIC's chairman for the year ahead, Colin Campbell, reported that a survey of members found 69 percent agreed willingness to pay was a major issue.
He added that the willingness-to-pay assessment wasn't intended to "name and shame" insurers, but some companies "may feel uncomfortable" with the results. AIRMIC intends to extend the index by including brokers and reviewing their involvement in claims negotiations and settlement.
AIRMIC's ERM initiative is a joint venture with Norwegian risk services group Det Norske Veritas.
Organizations ranging from international food group Nestléto U.K. postal service the Royal Mail will participate. The project aims to provide a bottom-up assessment of ERM benefits. A report detailing the findings is scheduled for publication by March 2008.
Taylor observed that regulated sectors such as finance and utilities were embracing ERM most quickly, while others such as pharmaceuticals and food were likely to follow. He also suggested that neither the United States nor Europe had a clear lead in adopting ERM practices.
A more imminent venture is the launch of the organization's new Risk Publishing Online this summer. RPO will be headed by David Gamble and will provide risk management learning courses principally aimed at small to medium-sized businesses.
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August 1, 2007
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