The first draft of AIRMIC's guide for insurance buyers on evaluating insurers' claims handling performance will be ready in October for discussion at a special convention

AIRMIC hopes to publish the document by the end of the year. It forms part of AIRMIC's project to develop a claims performance index, following concern by members about inconsistency among insurers in their approach to claims handling.

The guide describes what to look for in evaluating an insurer's claims service, including the resources at its disposal, the IT, processes, timescales, operational standards and willingness to accommodate a customer's requirements. Paul Hopkin, AIRMIC's technical director, described it as setting hallmarks of excellence in claims handling.

The claims performance index, which AIRMIC plans to develop during 2009, consists of two key elements:

An evaluation of insurance companies' claims capabilities

An assessment of company performance based on members' experience

The publication will be qualitative and will not assign scores. AIRMIC said it would express an opinion as to whether or not an insurer's claims operations meet minimum requirements, but not produce a league table.

Hopkin explained: 'Ultimately, it will be for the individual buyer to assess each insurer in light of the organisation's requirements.'

Leading insurers are also on course to conclude a voluntary agreement with AIRMIC to delay any reservation of rights for 90 days following notification of a claim. A reservation of rights gives notice to the policyholder that the insurer may refuse liability for a claim. Risk managers had complained some insurers were using the process routinely for large claims, which resulted in delay and additional expense.