BELFOR, a leading restoration and recovery company, recently announced the appointment of David Cooper as head of environmental services at its UK operation. Adrian Ladbury asked Mr Cooper about his new role, the trends he sees in the environmental field and how the group’s new integrated service will help risk managers do a better job.
Adrian Ladbury (AL): What were you doing before you joined BELFOR and why did you decide to take on the new role? What are your core goals and objectives in the new role? Is it just UK or Europe too?
David Cooper (DC): Before joining BELFOR, I had spent 20 years working in various roles within the asbestos and environmental services industry. My experiences have allowed me to work in different countries and many different sectors, from local authority to military and government.
When I sat down with the UK management team and the role was discussed, I couldn’t have been more excited. BELFOR is already well established, so the opportunities are there to be taken and the group’s forward-thinking approach with a desire to offer dynamic customer-focused services aligned perfectly with my own. The environmental services division will integrate with other areas of the company, so there is great scope to grow this part of the business.
We are offering a cradle-to-grave solution with complete ownership, from the initial call to closing the project. The main objectives are to work with our existing teams and divisions; and to educate them and explore how we can do more for our existing clients. We will also no doubt attract new clients with the innovative solutions we are working on.
AL: Who are your core customers – risk managers, brokers, insurers? What does BELFOR offer in this area that they cannot do themselves?
DC: Our core customers in the initial rollout will be insurance companies, loss adjusters, brokers and risk managers. Once we have fully bedded in the systems and processes and upskilled our teams, we will be targeting new clients across multiple sectors. They key to our service offering will be a total managed solution. Essentially, clients will be able to appoint us to manage a claim from start to finish. We have already discussed our plans with a number of clients and the feedback has always been the same. There is frustration with the existing model, which involves too many parties and thus has a lack of management and a lack of control. We will project manage all aspects of the claims, from initial site surveys to specialist services (asbestos removal, land remediation etc), to reconstruction and handing back.
AL: What kind of complex environmental solutions will you be working on and in which areas? What will they offer customers to help them manage their risk more effectively?
DC: We will be working on land remediation on contaminated land (i.e. fuel, oil, asbestos), as well as asbestos removal in both domestic and commercial premises. We also see mould and air-quality management solutions being a key service offering to clients such as housing associations. Having a trusted partner that can deliver professional solutions will give risk managers greater control and peace of mind for what can often be areas of real concern and mystery.
AL: What kind of new and innovative systems, processes and services are planned?
DC: What we are offering is a complete managed solution from a professional partner that can provide a wide range of services with unrivalled resources. I am not sure that is ‘innovative’, but I am certain it is what the market is looking for. We are supported by a European technical support team, which is constantly pushing and innovating services and solutions for our customers – and I have no doubt we will be looking to find new solutions for customers.
AL: How has the environmental claims landscape developed in recent times? What are the damage and claims trends, and what must risk managers focus on in the coming months and years to prevent losses in the first place and mitigate impact when events occur?
DC: One of the biggest problems we see in the commercial market is when a customer hasn’t had the necessary surveys completed or doesn’t have the paperwork in place to highlight potential risks. We will be aiming to help with legislative responsibilities in order to reduce claims lifecycles. Within the domestic claims market, we are now able to carry out all necessary testing and surveying on day one of a visit and then implement a solution immediately. Again, this will dramatically reduce the lifecycle of claims, which of course will deliver cost savings and an improved customer experience.
Commercial Risk is hosting a Claims Management Conference on 27-29 April 2021. We have worked with a number of European risk management associations to bring together a group of experts in a virtual forum to discuss how best to adapt to emerging long-term risk trends and explore the type of claims patterns that these new exposures are generating. Click here to secure your seat at the event.