Talking Loss Adjustment, Inflation & More, With Woodgate & Clark

It’s a busy start to the year for Commercial Loss Adjuster Woodgate & Clark, as the company fully integrates with Quadra and sets up a new C-Suite team at the helm to face the challenges ahead.

Claims inflation is likely to be a big challenge in 2023, plus Woodgate & Clark are also looking to recruit and retain the best talent in the sector, adding the human touch to insurtech as claims are settled. IE caught up with managing director Phil Scarrett to learn more.

IE; Inflation really took off last year, how has that affected the loss adjusting sector in general?

PS; Yes inflation in terms of rebuild costs, supply chain issues and ESG rules all had an impact, as did the long dry summer which prompted some property subsidence claims. From Woodgate’s point of view it was also a year of consolidation where we fully integrated Quadra into the business, which gives us more reach and resources of course.

IE; Has it become more difficult to find skilled and qualified tradespersons to carry out repairs and renovation after a property claim?

PS; For us it’s always been a partnership approach with our contracted suppliers and repair network. It has to be really because the frequency, or severity of weather events is unpredictable, so you need to plan in advance to an extent. As a company we have built up a network of contractors and sub-contractors who each have their own specialist areas of expertise. It’s a two-way street and benefits both Woodgate and the contractors since they want the insurance claim work.

IE; ESG is really gathering pace as a compliance framework now, do you see a point in the future where insurers and claims companies will be asked to not just repair older properties, but bring them up to date into Bands A-C for energy ratings?

PS; I think all insurers are embarking on their own ESG journeys. Some have a very defined vision of where they want to be and Woodgate already checks our supply chain, the vehicles we use for site visits, recycling and carbon usage in our offices and so on. You have to.

But whether insurers need to upgrade properties is another matter, as the property owner has a say of course. Perhaps in the case of something like a hotel, where the owners might want to take the chance to upgrade the facilities and energy efficiency as part of the refurb yes, but in domestic properties I can see the insurers essentially putting things back to how they were before the claims incident.

The Flood Re scheme is also one of the best tools we have in terms of prepping older properties and those on flood plains for future events. There is scope for more flood defence work by government, NGOs and property developers going forward.

IE; 2022 was a year of the Great Resignation, do you think insurance still lacks a bit of excitement as a career choice?

PS; I don’t know if I buy into the Great Resignation theory, but there is no doubt that the age demographic is higher across the insurance sector than some others in the UK economy. How can we bring in new talent? Well Woodgate & Clark are really focussed on helping people get qualified and progress in loss adjusting, which is a varied job day-to-day. Claims can often be complex and you need a mix of people skills, plus technical understanding in particular niches.

For example we bought Spotlite claims because media production and the risks associated with it are very particular. That means you need people on the ground during a claim who truly understand the business of making TV programmes or films.

It’s a similar scenario in commercial property; for example, sometimes a warehouse claim will require understanding not just of the building itself, but a wider knowledge of supply chains, the value of goods or stock lost, contract clauses, storage requirements and so forth. Woodgate & Clark can give talented people all that knowledge over a period of years, so they feel confident in managing people on site.

IE; A claim incident is one where people are under incredible stress, so it must take some diplomatic skills as well as knowing where you can get replacement building materials etc?

PS; Absolutely right. Our people need a unique skill set to cope with customers who are really feeling stress because of the situation. You need empathy as well as accuracy on figures and an understanding of a niche industry like construction, film, food wholesaling etc. It isn’t easy, but it is a very rewarding job.

IE; What other acquisitions are on the horizon, are Woodgate & Clark considering buying beyond the claims sector?

PS; We are always open to new acquisitions but because loss adjustment is such a highly specialised business they would probably be within the claims sector, or directly related services.

IE; Phil thanks for the insights.

About alastair walker 10924 Articles
20 years experience as a journalist and magazine editor. I'm your contact for press releases, events, news and commercial opportunities at Insurance-Edge.Net

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