Canadian Underwriter

The Big Bang

April 23, 2014   by — As told to Regan Reid

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Company: Braemar Adjusting
CEO: Grant Smith

We’re known as specialist energy loss adjusters. We specialize in oil and gas, power generation and mining. Brian Steege opened the first office that’s now part of Braemar Adjusting in 1975 in London, England. From there, offices were opened in Houston and Singapore. We continued to expand, opening our first Canadian office in Calgary in 2003. About that time, the Canadian oil and gas industry really started to expand—they worked out how, through in situ recovery techniques, they could economically increase the production from the Canadian oil sands. It meant that Canada’s recoverable reserves jumped up to second in the world after the Saudis (now we’re third to Venezuela). In 2008, we joined the Braemar Group and we’ve really been able to expand our global reach since. We now have 10 principle adjusting hub offices, and provide a combination of marine and energy surveying, loss adjusting and pre-risk engineering services from a global network of more than 40 offices. Before joining Braemar, we’d have to jump on a plane and go everywhere. Now we’ve actually got local guys who can attend an event for us or, at the very least, be our first responders.

So what is it that we do? We basically wait for things to blow up. We’re the guys that no one wants to see, but if we do our job right, they were glad we were there at the end of the day. We explain the technical engineering side to the insurers and explain the insurance side to the energy companies, and then mediate the claims process so that everybody walks away happy.

We are constantly in a “building for tomorrow” phase in our business. In our Calgary office, for example, we’re recruiting young Canadian engineers and insurance specialists into the business. What used to happen is loss adjusters from London or Houston got parachuted out to the colonies when there was a big loss. Our philosophy has always been to recruit and train good people in the locations where we’re based, rather than just flying somebody in. We used to advertise for specialist loss adjusters, but we found it hard to find suitable candidates. But, when we started advertising for engineers, geologists, et cetera, then convinced them how interesting a career in insurance could be and committed to training them, the quality of our recruitment improved. That’s why I think we’re ahead of the curve. A lot of our competitors don’t seem to be investing as much effort into recruiting new talent.

A recent big win for us was being chosen as the independent loss adjuster for the Ichthys Project, a major offshore and onshore LNG project in Western Australia. It’s going to include a lot of complex infrastructure, including an 885-kilometre, 42-inch subsea pipeline, which is the fourth longest in the world. The insurers and the oil companies worked together to interview who they wanted to have as an independent loss adjuster for the construction project, which goes from now until 2016. We won that tender because of our experience in both the onshore and offshore energy space. But it’s funny; we get pigeonholed around the world. Some people think of us as an offshore adjusting house only, whereas in Calgary, we’re completely landlocked and what we specialize in is onshore losses for the oil sands. That’s the difficulty we have—making sure people recognize our abilities in both onshore and offshore.

Copyright 2014 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the March 2014 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.