Judging Panel

Adam Higgs

Head of Research – Adviser Services

Finance & Technology Research Centre

Adam is an ex paraplanner and FTRCs protection specialist. He leads FTRCs detailed research and benchmarking of both the product and operational features provided by insurers.

Alan Lakey



Alan Lakey has been in the industry since 1978. He's been an IFA since 1986 and started CIExpert in 2012. He is an ex-Director of Adviser Alliance and an ex-Council member of APFA. He spent eight years working for an assortment of insurers, distributors and winner of 20 awards for advisory excellence. He is the author of a biography of seminal ‘60s rock band The Pretty Things and also wrote ‘Idiocy in Commercial Life: Practical Ways to Navigate Through Nonsense'.

Christine Husbands

Managing Director


Christine spent the initial part of her career in financial roles and she has held several board positions in Financial Services and is a Chartered Director "When I worked on the acquisition of RedArc, I just fell in love with the business and was delighted to pick up the reins in 2010.

"I am very proud to be helping so many people at often the most difficult times of their lives whilst at the same time I enjoy the commercial business challenges."

Christine has 2 daughters and in what little spare time she has, enjoys needlework, gardening and walking.

Claire Ginnelly

Managing Director

Premier Choice Group

Claire Ginnelly has been in the private medical insurance industry since 1991. Before joining Premier Choice Group in June 2013, all her experience was gained working for large insurance companies and always working on the intermediary distribution. She has held senior positions within Standard Life Healthcare, as Head of Intermediary Sales, and Groupama Healthcare, as Head of Distribution. Claire started her career in Healthcare with Norwich Union Healthcare (now Aviva) and then moved to WPA before joining Standard Life Healthcare.

In June 2013, Claire joined Premier Choice Group as Head of Healthcare and became Managing Director in June 2015. Premier Choice is an intermediary specialising in Healthcare and Risk products.


Emma Thomson

Life Office Relationship Director


Emma has nearly twenty years' experience in the Protection industry, beginning her career in Unum's underwriting team before joining LifeSearch in 2000, and uses her expertise and influence to help grow and improve the protection market. Emma is LifeSearch's Life Office Relationship Director and Press Spokesperson. Both roles involve her lobbying for improved customer experiences and increased consumer awareness; she works closely with insurers to develop their propositions, liaises with journalists on Protection stories, together with speaking publicly and writing columns on issues and opportunities to help get more consumers protected.

Emma is Chair of the Protection Distributors Group which LifeSearch helped to establish, leading their Funeral Payment Pledge and Claims Charter Campaigns. Emma also instigated the formation of the Women in Protection Network and is Chair of this group which includes distributors, insurers, re-insurers as well as other organisations such as the ABI and CII. The WIP Network is focussed on improving diversity in our market; to increase the number of women buying Protection insurance and to encourage greater numbers of women working within and influencing the industry. In addition, for many years Emma has represented LifeSearch at the Income Protection Task Force and F&TRC's Protection Forum meetings.


Melissa Collett

Professional Standards Director

Chartered Insurance Institute (CII)

Melissa Collett is Professional Standards Director at the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), leading its professional standards, ethics and conduct activity as a united profession across insurance and financial planning. She is also responsible for the professional body's legal affairs, risk management, disciplinary matters and governance. She is keen to raise awareness of best practice and drive ethical behaviour through engagement with the profession and external stakeholders.
Melissa has an extensive background in consumer insurance and legal issues. She spent over a decade at the Financial Ombudsman Service, was a Director at Fairer Finance and sits as a Tribunal Judge. She is also qualified solicitor, and specialised in insurance law at Hogan Lovells. She is a frequent speaker at insurance conference and events, sits on judging panels, and is the author of numerous articles and publications on consumer insurance law subjects.

Ron Wheatcroft

Technical manager

Swiss Re

Ron works with the market, looking at the likely impact of legislation and regulation. He is a regular commentator in the media.

He is a Board Member of the Investment & Life Assurance Group, a member of GRiD's Regulations Committee and Growing the Market Working Party, and the ABI's Social Care Working Party.

He has recently been appointed Chairman of the European Knowledge Tree Group, an organisation founded in 2010 and based at the London School of Economics, to advance and enrich eHealth in all its forms.

Outside work, Ron chooses to ignore Premiership hype, settling instead for watching Gillingham in League One and the sober reality of consistent mid-table mediocrity as an escape from the prospect of away matches in far-flung places in League Two.


Ruth Gilbert

Protection Proposition Consultant

Insuring Change

Ruth Gilbert heads up Insuring Change, a consultancy specialising in new ways of tackling customer-centric protection and which also provides out-sourced technical support.

Ruth is also Head of Fairer Finance Scotland, and a regular contributor to Cover magazine.

She has a special interest in improving customer engagement, health and well-being support and perceptions of protection through claims experience.

Ruth has a law degree and more than 25 years' insurance experience, including marketing, proposition design and technical roles. Having run her own website company informs her perspective on the future of digital protection propositions.