Business News: Crawford & Co., Auto-Owners, Guy Carpenter

December 15, 2016
Crawford Buys Majority Stake in ‘Uber-Like’ Field Inspection Firm WeGoLook

Global claims management firm Crawford & Co. has acquired a majority interest in WeGoLook, an online and mobile inspection firm that calls itself the “Uber of inspections.”

Crawford said it agreed to pay $36.1 million for an 85 percent stake in WeGoLook, which is based in Oklahoma.

Both company boards have approved the transaction, which they expect to close in January 2017.

WeGoLook provides on-demand field inspection and verification services. Its web and mobile platform enables more than 30,000 mobile workers known as “lookers” to collect and verify information using their smartphone cameras. They can perform same-day vehicle, heavy equipment and building inspections for insurance and lending firms, as well as provide notary services and verify auction items. The firm also handles custom tasks for businesses and consumers. The service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Its website claims it has 100 employees and 8,000 unique customers. WeGoLook recently began adding “lookers” in Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.

The company was formed in 2009 by Robin Smith, current CEO, and friend Mark Claywood as a tasking service that connected eBay shoppers with local people who would go inspect the items they wanted to buy.

Harsha Agadi, president and CEO of Crawford & Co., said in the announcement that he sees tremendous potential combining WeGoLook’s technology with Crawford’s global reach and client relationships.

These “cost-effective services will allow Crawford to unlock the large, underserved market for high frequency claims, reduce claim handling fees and help guard against fraud,” he said.

Another on-demand claims service, called DropIn, allows a claims adjuster to dispatch a person with a smartphone —called a Droperator— to a location to take photos and live video of a loss situation.

This Los Angeles-based firm, which was founded in May 2015 by Louis Ziskin, who said has plans to expand the service by making drone operators available as well. DropIn currently claims to have a network of 64,000 independent contractor smartphone users called Droperators and more than 1,100 drone pilots worldwide, with 50 percent being former military veterans.

Auto-Owners Insurance Affiliates with New England Insurer Concord General Mutual

Auto-Owners Insurance announced its proposed affiliation with the Concord General Mutual Insurance group of companies, a regional insurance provider based in New England.

Both Auto-Owners and Concord have a long-standing tradition of outstanding customer service and financial integrity, with Auto-Owners recently celebrating its 100 year anniversary and Concord closing in on 90 years.

Concord is an A.M. Best A- (Excellent) rated property/casualty insurer that operates exclusively through independent agents in New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts. While Concord currently specializes in personal lines insurance, it will be able to expand its commercial product offerings as a result of the affiliation, strengthening agency relationships and adding greater overall value as a result.

The affiliation is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals, and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2017.

Guy Carpenter Forms New Global Strategic Advisory Organization

Guy Carpenter & Company, LLC, a global risk and reinsurance specialist and a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies, announced a newly-created Global Strategic Advisory organization comprised of its Advisory, Analytics, Structured Risk, M&A Advisory, Lloyd’s Capital and Business Intelligence capabilities.

Rob Bentley has been appointed president of Global Strategic Advisory. He re-joins Guy Carpenter from Marsh, where most recently he ran the U.S, and Canada Division.

Bentley will report to Peter Hearn, president & CEO of Guy Carpenter, and will be based in New York. He is a 30-year veteran of insurance and reinsurance broking, with significant executive and operational experience in analytics and software development.

In connection with the creation of the Global Strategic Advisory organization, Vicky Carter has been appointed vice chairman of Global Strategic Advisory. She will also report to Hearn, and will continue to be based in London. A reinsurance industry veteran with more than 35 years of experience, most recently Carter served as vice chair of Guy Carpenter’s international operations, and previously has held multiple prominent leadership roles in the industry.

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