Objectivity is an essential, and sometimes elusive, quality when settling a claim—particularly those involving multiple, diverse stakeholders. In a recent Partner Research Corporation survey of executives in the Canadian property insurance industry, interviewees were asked how important it was that the professional services provider holds an unbiased, non-vested position. It came as no surprise to SPECS that 72% of respondents believe using an unbiased property appraiser and consulting service provider is important.
While every firm is different, SPECS adheres to strict guidelines that allow us to remain impartial during the claim process. With no affiliation to adjustment, restoration, construction or engineering services, we can avoid any conflicts of interest. This puts SPECS in the position of facilitator rather than as an agent of a particular stakeholder, so our consultants can provide comprehensive project oversight and accountability on costs and timelines. Our non-vested approach also helps us to foster collaboration between parties.
Such was the case when a municipality asked SPECS to consult on a bridge rebuild after girders buckled during construction. The municipal body, contractor, and sub-contractor were all involved, leading to communication issues and discrepancies in costing, in addition to the associated proposed time and budget increases. SPECS’ principal task was to provide clarity: from understanding the loss and developing the scope of repair to reviewing invoices and making payment recommendations.
Providing clarity, however, requires an unbiased perspective. A Partner Research study interviewee offered by way of explanation, “you need some sort of a firewall between the firm that does the appraisal and bid analysis as well as the [firm] that will manage the rebuild."
SPECS maintained this firewall during the bridge project by taking an impartial position—sharing both the methodology and results with all parties when managing the review and cost benchmarking. Transparency, coupled with objective expertise, not only helped to identify inconsistencies in the information and documentation, but also to expedite claim resolution, cut the repair timeline, and save money.
The value of using independent consultants is immediate. By virtue of their neutrality, they can instill parties—even those having divergent interests—with a degree of trust and willingness to cooperate. In turn, a collaborative approach leads to more accurate scoping and costing. Ultimately, this underscores the overall objective for any claim that the final settlement serves the best interests of the project as a whole.