Trevor Latimer is managing director of loss adjuster MYI, but he’s on the same on-call rota as his colleagues. He explains why to Lauren MacGillivray.

When last summer’s floods hit, Trevor Latimer was at the start of growing a young loss adjusting firm and was caught unprepared for the widespread devastation of the storms. But he also managed to make some key contacts during that time, laying the groundwork for future success. And now, just over a year later, MYI boasts nine regional offices, in Glasgow, Belfast, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Cheltenham, Southampton and London. The Cheltenham office was opened as a direct result of contacts that MYI made in that area during the floods.

“In terms of timing in the development in the business, it was probably slightly early,” Latimer says. “But we picked up a huge amount of work in the west of the country on the back of the local broker relationships. But in the North, probably not quite so much.”

Latimer doesn’t have an inflated notion of where MYI will fit into the UK hierarchy of adjusters. The company’s US parent, McLarens Young International, is ranked in the top three globally by geographical reach and top five by turnover. It’s also the largest employee-owned loss adjusting business in the world with more than 300 offices in 83 countries.

But the plan is to keep the UK operation – which has just over 30 adjusters and specialises in niche commercial claims, complex personal and high-net worth – relatively small.

“We’ll have a steady curve of recruitment until we get to our optimum size, but we’re not looking to become a big composite adjusting house,” Latimer says. “We’re looking to have a relatively small turnover compared with larger players such as Crawford & Company or Cunningham Lindsey, for example, but with a good margin and focus on niche areas.”

At 55 years old and with a long career in loss adjusting, Latimer has well earned his place as managing director. But due to the company’s flat management structure, he’s on the same on-call rota as the rest of his colleagues – day, night or weekend. All members of the executive team are practising chartered adjusters and provide clients with their personal mobile numbers.

Latimer says he wouldn’t have it any other way: “There was a time when I moved into an operational role but having come back into loss adjusting, I ask myself why I ever left it. Nothing gives me a bigger buzz than a new loss coming in – the more complex and technical, the better.”

Latimer is originally from Newcastle, where he also spent the first 25 years of his working life with Robins, Davies & Little, which merged with GAB to create GAB Robins in 1995. Latimer moved to London 10 years ago with GAB Robins and two years ago, began working with MYI.

He was joined by Graham Smart, who is now executive director of MYI. Smart entered the industry straight from school with Pioneer Mutual [now Swiss Life] and later joined Thomas Howell, where he first trained as a loss adjuster.

Latimer recruited him to join GAB, and then the pair both joined MYI. “He was an industry-recognised figure and I had no hesitation in joining him,” Smart says. “We have a very strong friendship and a very similar outlook on the business as a whole.”

Both men are a fan of the way MYI operates in that it doesn’t belong to an insurance panel by way of a contract, in the way that most large loss adjusters do. Instead, it has nominated accounts, which means it builds more informal and closer relationships with clients and brokers.

Flood havoc

Latimer believes the 2007 floods exposed holes in the panel system. There were times, he says, when loss adjusters like MYI were not called on simply because they weren’t on a panel. The floods caused such havoc that all loss adjusting resources needed to be utilised, and Latimer says that mobilisation was hampered due to panels. Instead of calling on local adjusters which were not on panels, some loss adjusters sent for their own reinforcements from overseas – thus wasting valuable time and money.

“That’s one example of where panel situations can get in the way of making sure the right levels or best resource gets there,” Latimer says. “With our proposition around nominated accounts, we don’t have contractual commitments that require us to set boundaries over our resources. We commit to relationships with clients and brokers that are unencumbered in those situations.”

He adds that in a nominated relationship, a loss adjuster can acquire a better understanding of a business before a loss actually happens.

“That’s part of the nomination process,” he says. “But if you’re dealing with a claim where there is no nomination, then the first you know of that business is after the loss.”

Latimer also believes having a regional presence is key: “While there has been big centralisation in terms of the insurers in the UK, and their approach to claims has probably followed that in terms of centralised operations, the broker markets remain very vibrant in their regional locations.”

MYI might be small but led by Latimer its reach, both in London and beyond, has become relatively mighty.