Jeffrey T. Bowman, president and CEO of the international insurance services firm Crawford & Co., provided a prime example of the importance of his industry during a luncheon address at the Kiwanis Club of Atlanta at this week’s monthly meeting March 24.
Citing the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January 2010, he said that the 10th floor of his company’s Atlanta-based headquarters was covered by more insurance than that covering the entirety of Haiti.
That earthquake resulted in the deaths of more than 100,000 people, and the collapse or severe damage to at least 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings,
He also cited the earthquake in Chile that less than a month later destroyed half a million homes and left 2 million people living in the streets.
Far fewer died as a consequence of the earthquake that hit Chile. Another difference between the two that Mr. Bowman pointed out was the insurance covering the devastation in Chile amounted to $8.5 billion dollars.
The result seems almost obvious. While Chile has fully recovered and its economy is doing well, Haiti is worse off than it was before the earthquake. Also only half of the money promised internationally to help rebuild it has been received.
According to Mr. Bowman, Crawford & Co. is prepared for almost any disaster ranging from those initiated by climate change including rising sea levels to nuclear accidents
Last year, however, there were “no events,” he said, adding somewhat wistfully, “That’s not good for us.”
Whenever another disaster occurs, however, ranging from a kitchen fire to a major calamity, he said that the company will be prepared to respond with “superior” and localized, on the ground service.
Crawford has grown from a small regional operation to the world’s largest independent provider of claims management and related solutoins to the risk management and insurance industry.
It has an expansive global network serving clients in more than 70 countries and recently established its latest Global Business Services Center in Manila, the capital of the Philippines.
Mr. Bowman traced the company’s growth and services from the time that it was founded by Jim Crawford in 1941 in Columbus, Ga., with the idea that an independent claims adjusting firm could provide insurers with a cost effective and efficient alternative to in-house adjusters.
He recounted how Mr. Crawford developed the concept from watching different milk trucks make their monring rounds near his home in Columbus. His insight was that it made more sense for an independent company to carry the milk for multiple dairies in one truck and he applied the concept to the claims adjusting process within the insurance industry.
Today, the company offers integrated claims services, business process outsourcing and consulting servies for major product lines including property and casualty claims management, workers’ compensation claims and medical management, and legal settlement administration.
It has been a key insurer in some of the largest natural and man-made catastrophes in recent memory.