Meet the team: Gavin Williams, Head of Claims

Gavin Williams, the Head of Claims for Syndicate 1856 at IQUW, shares his fascinating journey into the insurance industry, revealing a path that was as unexpected as it was rewarding. "Like so many, I stumbled my way into insurance," he laughs, recounting the tale of how a visit to the job centre ultimately led him to a trainee claims broker role, where his career in the insurance world began.

How did you first arrive in the insurance industry?

I had offers from various universities to pursue an economics degree after completing my A levels. Instead, one Thursday, I decided to stroll down to the local job centre to look for jobs in finance. I was lucky given the job centre was only open on a Thursday. With no internet then, I grabbed a job card from the wall, for what I thought was a role in the world of money broking at a company now very well known as Willis Towers Watson. Long story short, after just one interview I got the job, only to realise in the first two weeks that it wasn't quite what I thought, it was as a trainee claims broker in their energy division, but by then I was hooked on this fascinating industry and have never looked back.

After two years there, I saw an advert for a marine claims broker role at Nelson Hurst, a small bespoke Marine Brokers, which later became Alexander Forbes and now Lockton. I spent a total of 11 and a half years at Lockton, transitioning from marine cargo claims to handling energy claims and subsequently looking after energy, property and construction claims. Later, I joined Hiscox as an energy claims adjuster, where I spent 10 years finishing up as the marine and energy claims manager. Before IQUW I spent 3 years at Canopius, a divisional Head of Claims for various lines of business and managing a sizable team.

I received an enticing offer from IQUW to become the Head of Claims for Syndicate 1856. I joined IQUW in October 2022 and over the past year we have grown from strength to strength, restructuring the team, recruiting quality individuals and building a market leading broker facing claims team.

Throughout my career, I've been given opportunities to transition to underwriting or placing broking roles, but I've always found satisfaction in handling and leading claims. The claims market has its own unique place within the industry, it’s a community where I have met friends for life, and I enjoy the broker interaction, delivering positive outcomes for policyholders and managing negotiations for big ticket claims. I find the work in claims to be intense and fulfilling, with plenty of client-facing interactions, market exposure and global travel.

Tell us more about IQUW’s Claims Team

When I joined IQUW, the claims team was relatively small, with around seven members. We've since grown to eleven, with plans for one more in 2024. I have restructured the team creating divisional heads for various classes of business; Stuart Bell heads up the property and treaty claims team, Tony Kriesel heads up the professional lines and specialty claims, and Chris Swift manages the claims operations. The team is well-structured, with a mix of experienced professionals, different ages, with diverse backgrounds, ranging from those well established in their insurance and claims careers to those just starting out as graduate trainees.

What makes IQUW different to other insurers?

One key differentiator at IQUW is our size. A modest sized but adequately resourced team allows us to be more personalised in our approach with both internal and external customers. The team is encouraged to take on extra opportunities enabling personal and professional growth and development. The emphasis on social interaction and internal stakeholder management creates a dynamic and engaging work environment.

The claims team at IQUW is an integral part of the overall service proposition at IQUW, in many cases involved from the start of client interactions with underwriters rather than being overlooked or brought in late. Collaboration with the underwriting teams is encouraged, in fact it is essential, and welcomed and this holistic approach ensures a seamless connection between claims, underwriting, and other divisions, fostering a collaborative work culture.

Why is the use of data such a game-changer for IQUW?

At IQUW, we leverage technology and data analytics to enhance our operations. We use our experience and exposure management tools to assess our exposure to large events, aiding in managing claims arising from events like hurricanes and floods.

We've developed a claims Management Information (MI) dashboard and a claims operations dashboard to provide insights into our claims MI and operational performance respectively. Both built entirely in-house these tools offer real-time data insights, allowing for self-service access for underwriters and other internal stakeholders, which is unique in my experience. Additionally, our claims control framework ensures effective internal controls, compliance, financial management, and ultimately good customer outcomes.

IQUW's focus on data analytics and future automation aligns with the industry's evolution. We have ongoing plans for automation in claims handling and other areas to enhance efficiency and service delivery. Embracing change and innovation is a key aspect of our approach at IQUW.

What made you join IQUW?

Joining IQUW was a strategic career move for several reasons. The opportunity to lead and head up a claims team and contribute to the growth of a startup was exciting. The positive buzz in the market about IQUW and the chance to work with high-calibre professionals were additional draws. I felt confident in the leadership team and the potential for personal and professional development.

In hindsight, joining IQUW has been the best career decision I have made. The unique culture, opportunities for growth, and the chance to contribute to building a dynamic claims team have made my time at IQUW immensely satisfying.