Canadian Underwriter

How insurers can turn their salvage into social purpose

April 17, 2019   by Jason Contant

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If your client has filed a claim after experiencing a major event like a flood or fire, it’s likely that contractors have removed salvageable materials that are still usable.

For example, in the event of a kitchen flood, contractors may place a large bin outside and start taking apart the flooring and cabinets that had been damaged. But in this case, the flood would have likely damaged flooring and lower cabinets, so why throw the upper cabinets in a bin destined for the landfill when they can be repurposed?

One large Canadian insurer has taken a unique approach to divert such salvageable materials from landfills. Since 2014, The Co-operators has partnered with Habitat for Humanity Canada for the insurer’s ReClaim program, which provides Habitat for Humanity ReStores with good quality materials salvage from a home claim. These materials include:

  • Quality building materials (windows, doors, lighting fixtures, paint, lumber, hardware; clothing or food is not accepted)
  • Kitchen cabinets
  • Appliances
  • Furniture
  • Home décor items.

“It’s good for both environmental and social purposes,” Barbara Turley-McIntyre, The Co-operators’ vice president of sustainability and citizenship, told Canadian Underwriter in an interview Tuesday. “The environmental piece is that you are diverting waste from a landfill; the social piece is that you are helping a well-known organization like Habitat for Humanity to build homes for disadvantaged Canadians.”

But why not just leave quality materials there for the client? “Because what we say is, we are going to replace and rebuild and put the client back in the position they were before that flood,” Turley-McIntyre said. And so, in the example of a kitchen flood that damages eight-year-old kitchen cabinets, “I’m not going to find the same ones, so how am I just going to replace my lower ones without doing my upper ones?” Hence, the lower and upper cabinets go, to make way for the new.

The Co-operators ReClaim program helped divert over 40,000 kilograms of materials from landfill last year. Earlier this week, the insurer was recognized as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers (2019) by Canada’s Top 100 Employers project; among the reasons it was selected was the ReClaim program.

Looking forward, Turley-McIntyre said she would like the program or something similar become standard practice for the insurance industry in Canada. “Imagine on a larger scale if we had all insurance companies participate,” she said. “I just think it would be great if the whole industry got on board and looked at how to divert salvage from landfills and also provide a social purpose for our communities.”

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2 Comments » for How insurers can turn their salvage into social purpose
  1. Reeder says:

    I hope our governments allow COOP to get tax considerations for their charitable contributions in this regard resulting in lower loss costs and premium stabilization. Kudos to The Co-operators.

  2. Robert says:

    On a large scale such as mid to large commercial losses, you will find salvors who sell from site or take positions to reduce the loss ratio.

    Every salvage recovery expert has their specialty niches that they shine in & often times serve other general niches.

    A niche specific specialist will help sell or take position to maximize carrier recovery with commercial property settlements of damaged mid-large losses.

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