Willis Group Holdings said it has created a tool so its brokerage clients can rate and compare carriers on their performance in underwriting, policy administration, claims performance and service activities.

Release of the Willis Quality Index follows two years in development and four carrier evaluation surveys gathering qualitative opinions from nearly 4,000 Willis associates across the globe, the firm said.

According to the brokerage, Willis Quality Index has been designed to help clients identify carriers that best meet their individual needs on a risk-by-risk basis.

The firm said Willis Quality Index recognizes a client’s needs and priorities may vary by risk profile, and therefore compares only carriers within a specific sector, under the guidance of Willis executives.

“The Willis Quality Index is the ultimate buyer’s guide,” Joe Plumeri, chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “It cuts through all the preconceived notions of buying the cheapest insurance deal and helps clients select the best partners based on superior performance.”

“By working in partnership with carriers, sharing information from the Willis Quality Index relevant to them, we can together help raise industry standards.”

Carriers are evaluated and assigned stars that are based on their relative performance compared to other carriers in each business sector. Carriers scoring in the top 10 percent of the range of scores in each sector are assigned five stars. Those with scores in the bottom 10 percent receive one star.

Willis said it has shared the draft findings with major carrier groups over the past year. From their latest Spring 2008 Willis Quality Index carrier survey, Willis found evidence that carriers across all parts of the business had scored, on average, better than in their last survey, suggesting that carriers are recognizing the increasing importance of quality service in a soft market.

The company said it will demonstrate its Index at its vendors booth during next week’s Risk & Insurance Management Society conference in San Diego.