CASE IN POINT | Crawco & Company SA
by Valdi Pereira
To be the Best in Africa
The leading provider of professional loss adjusting and claims support services globally and in Sub-Saharan Africa, Crawford & Company South Africa prides itself on being a one-stop shop.
Crawford & Company South Africa boasts a wealth of experience in global networking partnered with unsurpassed integration of local expertise in claims and region-specific knowledge.
It prides itself on offering a one-stop shop, through its system of claims solutions that include a comprehensive integrated Claims Management System, Global Technical Services, Business Process Outsourcing and Consulting Services.
Its specialist divisions serve the mining, engineering, commercial and property, financial markets, and transportation sectors. It also has an investigation division, a liability division and a forensic fire investigation division, which only recently launched.
The company boasts some of the world’s leading loss adjusters. This includes Terry Ward who is head of Crawford Global Technical Services South Africa under which the above divisions fall. He also heads up the Crawford Global Mining Division.
Ward, who has been loss adjusting for 45 years, has been with Crawford & Company South Africa since 2006. For the past 25 years he has specialised in Large and Complex Loss Claims Management and Adjustment for both the local and international Insurance markets in the Commercial, Industrial and Mining industries, including Property Damage, Business Interruption, Telecommunications, Commercial Crime, Financial Markets, Liability and Professional Indemnity classes.
His experience as a loss adjuster is extensive stretching from 1967 when he started as a general loss adjuster working his way from an insurance company in-house adjuster, to partner and general loss adjuster, senior partner – executive loss adjuster and chief executive and executive loss adjuster till 2006. He also served two terms as the President of the Institute of Loss Adjusters Southern Africa.
“At Crawford & Company South Africa we pride ourselves giving clients a one-stop shop. The expertise housed within the company can be called upon at any time,” says Ward.
An industry sector where the company is especially sought after is mining. Ward explains that Crawford & Company South Africa has managed countless major mining losses globally, ranging from millions to billions of dollars, offering a wide range of insurance related services to insurers and corporate risk managers in the oil, gas, petrochemical, energy and natural resources industries.
“Its global multi-disciplinary team boasts the experience and expertise to manage any type of mining claim.”
He further explains that mining claims can stem from earthquake, storm, flood, fire, collapse, rock falls, machinery breakdown, etc.” The consequence of a mining claim is often a serious interruption in the business. Crawford & Company South Africa understand this and has a core team of experienced mining/heavy industry loss adjusters globally in place to assist with this.” He adds that these are specialist adjusters recognised by the local and international insurance and re-insurance markets.
The Division boasts extensive experience in a wide variety of mining and industrial claims in South Africa and globally. It has extensive experience in the following metals and minerals: gold, the platinum group metals (PGM), copper, chrome, iron ore, diamonds and coal as well as the operation, extraction, processing and production, of mining, whether open cast or underground of these metals and minerals.
It operates globally, in particular in the principle mining areas of the world, including South and Central Africa, Australia, Asia Pacific, South America (Chile/Peru) and North America.
The Crawford Engineering Division has handled large claims internationally, including on the African continent, serving the needs of local and global Captives, Insurers and Reinsurers.
“Representative of all the engineering disciplines it offers a one stop shop involving all engineering-related insurance claims. Its ‘hands on’ approach to the resolution and settlement of complex claims allows it to assist clients cost effectively, but with the focus and attention to detail required,” Ward states.
In general, the claims the Division deals with are large and complex, and start when instructions are received from an insurance company or broker regarding an incident or failure. “The Division’s job is to find out the cause of the problem and then decide if it is covered or not,” he explains.
If covered the team provides expert input on the most economical ways of mitigating the property damage and business interruption losses, assisted by Crawford’s in-house business interruption specialist.
All of the Crawford teams recognise when it is appropriate and prudent to call in external consultants in specific fields of expertise.
Crawford South Africa has a national footprint, while also offering these skills across the continent. “Engineers are used because they understand the technical nature of the machinery involved or processes. Specialists are also brought in if needed.”
Once that happens and the cause has been established, a report is submitted to the insurance company. The claim and loss is minimised in terms of replacing the machinery and curtailing the loss of business and profit as much as possible. An interruption to the processes of a business can result in very substantial losses.
Therefore it is important that the insurer, insured, broker and loss adjuster work together in a partnership to ensure the best result for all concerned.
The final stage is to agree on a final figure and then recommend settlement. This involves quantifying the claim, examining the repair costs and the loss of profit as a loss of business, and, if there is a claim against a third party, examining the likelihood of the prospects of recovering from the third party.
“We offer more qualified engineers, in more fields of expertise with a greater depth of experience and extended resources in house, than any of our competitors with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in various fields ranging from engineering to legal and financial expertise, all of which can be called on at a moment’s notice as and when needed,” says Ward.
The benefit of this is especially so when a claim – and often they are in large corporate accounts – is not straightforward and involves high value items of equipment and where exposure to business interruption is very high.
He adds that the division recognises it is not only about the value of the claims settlement that is at stake, but also the long term business needs of all the parties and therefore manages the claim economically and efficiently.
The Unit comprises five engineers and one consultant and, collectively their experience in the industry ranges from between 75 to 100 years. The Engineering Division has experts based in Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Durban.
Commerical and Property Division
The Division manages property claims of all sizes and all types of losses, whether residential or commercial; covering a wide range of happenings such as fire, natural disasters, storms, hail, and flood.
It investigates the circumstances of these happenings. “This can include a forensic investigation, measurement of the loss and considering the policy response. It provides tools and resources to expedite each claim through local or centralised services, dedicated teams which respond quickly and efficiently and a network of certified managed repair contractors,” Ward says. Through these it conducts cause and origin investigation and analysis for property and liability losses worldwide.
For complex domestic and commercial property adjusting, it offers experienced property claims adjusters who draw upon wider skills from specialist subsidence, agricultural, major loss, surveying, repairs and reinstatement services.
Financial Markets Division
Over the years, this Division has accumulated vast experience in the adjustment of wide variety of high value business interruption claims says Ward. “With a collective experience of 70 years, the Division is strong and effective as well as flexible as it is able to work across a large number of different industries.”
When needed it is able to call on the services housed within Crawford & Company South Africa, which gives it access to the experience and expertise within these divisions. “For example, on complex business interruption losses, the Division will work together closely with the adjuster who is managing the loss,” says Ward.
Assessing insurance claims relating to rail and road transport as well as pipelines distributing fuels and oils, this Division hosts a wealth of experience adding up to almost 50 years. This enables it to offer a service that is comprehensive, knowledgeable and intuitive.
The Division offers a 24 hour service, and is on standby on public holidays and weekends. Once it has received an appointment it will issue a report within seven days to both the principals and the underwriters.
“It has an excellent relationship with the country’s biggest companies in fuel and oil distribution, and leading agencies and parastatals, and therefore its understanding and knowledge of these entities allows it to provide a real service to insurers and brokers in the transport arena,” says Ward.
The long standing relationship between the Transportation Division and the entities has led to a relationship of trust having been built up. Having forged these relationships since 1994, for example, with Transnet and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), the Division has processed over 1 500 rail related losses in 20 years.
For ease of communication the Division has an electronic reporting system in place with a claims management system that is state of the art. The Division also provides services to the marine industry.
Claims Administration Division
The heart and soul of the business, the Claims Administration Division is the centralised hub for receiving claims from brokers and insurers and administers all claims at the company.
The first port of call for claims of any size, from small to commercial, regardless of size and complexity, is this Division. Once received the Division will then evaluate the claim, and, depending on its size, wither handle the claim or distributed to the appropriate loss adjuster.
Less complex claims, explains Ward, which require minimal investigation, are fast tracked, and handled cost effectively through the Division’s desktop system. “This system encourages the most efficient settlement process. Desktop claims for personal and commercial lines are an important part of the service we offer clients and the Division, through its people, skills and technology, provides a one touch claims handling.”
More complex claims, which require services, such as site investigation, are handed over to the relevant division within Crawford & Company South Africa. Ward says the beauty of this system is that it streamlines the claims process, thereby assuring the best customer service as the life cycle of a claim is reduced and lowers the administrative costs.
“This model ensures that the Division communicates quickly and easily with brokers/insurers. It ensures that all parties know of where the claim is in the process and allows for a more cost effective processing of the claim.”
By communicating directly with all the parties involved in the processing of the claim, such as the insurance company/broker, the investigator, expert, loss adjuster etc., the broker/insurer has one point of call, instead of having to keep track of a number of parties, he adds.
For further ease of communication, the Division also works within certain insurance companies’ systems. This also provides easy access to the Division’s report for that company. This gives the client visibility, allowing them to monitor the life cycle of the claims.
“The Division has personal relationships with the most experienced loss adjusters throughout the country as well as service levels agreements with many insurance companies,” he says.
Throughout the claim process – whether small or large – the client’s brand integrity and value is protected.
Middle Market Claims Division
Middle Market claims are processed through the company’s central receiving desk, in the Claims Administration Division, where they are registered and then sent out to the appropriate adjuster.
By controlling the timeline the Division ensures that the claim is processed with a fast and cost-effective turnaround says Ward, who explains that by offering a separate service to the small to middle value domestic commercial claims market, this market benefits from competitive rates with efficient services.
The Liability Division is a one stop shop, all embracing service allowing for a cost effective solution through its own expertise and experience as well as Crawford & Company South Africa’s national footprint and expertise.
Any corporate business or individual has the potential to cause damage or injury to people or things. The claim is investigated by the Legal/Liability Division which looks into the cause of the claim and if the claim itself is fair and reasonable. It advises insurers whether the client is legally liable or not, and if the insurance policy will cover them.
A wide range of claims is handled, some small, some large, as there are many different types of cover in liability. The Division’s well qualified adjusters collectively boast almost 100 years of collective experience.
On the more complex legal issues, the matters are referred to commercial litigation firms for advice, as instructed by insurers.
Investigation is an important – and often critical - part of the process of a claim. This, says Ward, is why Crawford & Company South Africa formed the Investigation Division.
“This is also in keeping with Crawford & Company South Africa as being a one stop shop and offering in house expertise.”
The Division provides services to the insurance industry and legal profession, adding value for Crawford Adjusters and Insurers, Brokers and Legal firms and include the investigation of circumstances around questionable claims, from motor vehicle theft, fire, personal accident, liability and third party civil recoveries.
It also offers the recording of formal sworn statements or records required and acts as a communication and liaison with representatives from the South African Police Services/CID/National Prosecution Authority thereby improving the quality and accuracy of the information. To drive criminal prosecutions it will prepare and present professional dockets to the SAPS/NPA.
It drives Fidelity Guarantee civil recoveries, linked to criminal prosecutions, checking for criminal records and tracing. Polygraph testing can also be facilitated by the Division.
Forensic Fire Investigation Division
The Forensic Fire Investigation Division will start operating in 1 January 2015, under the name of Chedza Fire Investigation and will offer a comprehensive fire cause investigation service to the short term insurance industry.
Its Coastal Division gives it the reach to service its clients nationally. “The adjusters in this division are able to service a wide variety of claims and the Division can tap into any of the other Divisions of the company at any time, as needed,” says Ward.
Crawford & Company SA’s head office is located in Bryanston (Gauteng) with branches, Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.