Q&A with Tom Irving

Tom Irving, director and general manager of ITIC, sits down to chat with the Claims Review editor for the third in a regular interview series, where we get to know ITIC’s claims handlers. In this interview, Tom discusses why he enjoys handling claims and we find out why he has become a pro at using a sealant gun!

How long have you worked at ITIC?

It was 10 years in February - which by ITIC standards makes me a relative newcomer! Prior to joining ITIC in London I worked for the TT Club in Sydney for three years. I didn’t move to London for the weather...

How do you balance claims handling with your other roles and responsibilities?

I don’t find this too much of an issue but there will always be days when one particularly complex claim, or one that needs urgent attention, can take a while to work through and take a chunk out of your day. I enjoy the claims handling part of the role – a good result on a claim is something a member tends to remember for a long time!

What is the biggest challenge when it comes to claims?

Sometimes it can be a challenge to untangle a situation as described over an e-mail so I find it often helps to have a member talk you through what has happened over the phone, rather than going back and forth on email to try to get the full picture.

What is the most memorable claim you have handled?

Within my first week of joining ITIC I was given a claim involving a ship agent in Papua New Guinea whose employees had been arrested and thrown in jail when a ship under their agency had allegedly departed from PNG waters, under the cover of darkness, while under arrest. The vessel had been arrested as the local customs authorities believed it to be carrying fuel oil which they said had been illegally loaded in a remote part of the country. I did wonder what I had come to but
fortunately ship agency isn’t generally such a dangerous profession! ITIC instructed local lawyers to assist the member and eventually the staff were released when the authorities could be persuaded they had nothing to do with the “smuggling”.

Any life ambitions or future goals still to achieve?

There is a sushi restaurant in Tokyo, Sukiyabashi Jiro, where I would love to eat. It is notoriously difficult to get reservations and I have tried in the past but to no avail. I’ve probably built it up too much in my mind thanks to the challenge of getting a booking.

What is your favourite food?

Impossible to choose but I’ll go with Vietnamese. There’s a great little Vietnamese cafe called Hohaki near ITIC’s office in the City, which I hope will still be there when we finally get back into the office.

What is your favourite film?

I watched Forest Gump again recently and remembered what a good film it is, particularly for the music.

Any pet hates?

Lateness. I am quite forgiving of others but can’t stand being late myself, to anything! Having said that, I’m not someone who likes to be at the airport hours early for a flight.

How are you finding working from home during this period of lockdown?

I can’t complain, our IT systems have performed admirably and it has been a busy year for ITIC. The first lockdown in the UK coincided with the start of spring so it was good being able to get out each evening for some fresh air. That required a bit more motivation over the winter months!

Have you developed any new skills during lockdown?

A fortnight before lockdown I moved into a house which was (and still is, in large parts) stuck in the 1970s – avocado bathroom suite etc. So lockdown has provided a good opportunity to hone my DIY skills – I have become adept with a sealant gun!

What do you miss the most about life pre-lockdown?

Travel. I was fortunate to have just returned from 6 weeks in New Zealand prior to the UK’s first lockdown, but I am itching to get on a plane again – to anywhere!

If you weren’t working at ITIC, what would you be doing?

Realising I would never make it is a cricketer, as a child I harboured an ambition to be an umpire. I think the international travel was the main attraction, but I’ve managed to get that at ITIC so things have worked out pretty well.

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