by Pat Rediger Pat Rediger

EQUA provides customized insurance and risk management solutions

Although the start of a pandemic is probably not the best time to begin a new business, that didn’t stop David Richards and Andy Bates. They knew the risks when they began EQUA Specialty Risk Partners Corporation (EQUA), an insurance brokerage that specializes in managing construction risks that leads to improved coverage and competitive pricing for its clients.

Despite the economic pressures brought on by the pandemic, Richards and Bates were confident that they had the right approach that would allow them to start and grow the brokerage. They wanted to create a business that would focus on clients and provide customized insurance and risk management services.

The duo already had a track record of success. Richards was the former chief executive officer of Jardine Lloyd Thompson Canada Inc. (JLT Canada) and an executive vice president of Aon Canada, while Bates had been the chief operating officer of JLT Canada, and a senior vice president with Marsh Canada Ltd.

“We wanted to provide true customer service and get to know our clients as individuals and not just clients.”

– Greg van Ginkel, Managing Partner/Construction Leader

Richards and Bates wanted to attract the right team to make this vision a reality and Greg van Ginkel was one of the cornerstones in that approach. With nearly 40 years of experience in insurance and risk management, he was a natural fit for EQUA. He previously served as a managing director for a large multinational broker, where he became the national construction and design leader. Afterwards, he was a co-owner and CEO of a regional brokerage in Regina.

“We were founded under the premise of serving those businesses, which were the next level down to Fortune 500 businesses, but providing them with the service that a Fortune 500 business would receive,” said van Ginkel, EQUA’s managing partner of the Saskatchewan office and construction business lead. “We wanted to provide true customer service and get to know our clients as individuals and not just clients.”

“For the most part, advice is usually what our clients need the most.”

– Greg van Ginkel, Managing Partner/Construction Leader

He adds that EQUA provides expertise to a select number of industries, such as the construction sector, which enables the company to better understand its clients and the risks they face. They believe in being honest and upfront about potential risks associated with potential opportunities and what could happen if the client decides to move forward.

EQUA is led by a board of directors and nine managing partners, and has offices in Regina, Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. All nine managing partners are insurance and risk management experts, which creates employee owners across the entire team and leads to an incredible level of dedication to their clients. The company is also supported by a robust administrative team that ensures its leaders and client executives are free to focus on building solutions and creating value while clients enjoy an incredibly high level of support and service.

Looking at construction in Saskatchewan

For Saskatchewan, van Ginkel says the company is focussed on the construction sector.

“We plan to continue to grow and to serve the construction community here,” he said. “Our team members have incredibly deep roots in Saskatchewan. We want to connect with the local business community to learn about your needs. We want to work together to build solutions that support Saskatchewan’s businesses and economy. We are here to help protect this industry and to do what we can to help it thrive.”

The Saskatchewan office provides insurance and risk management solutions for the local construction community, using highly specialized knowledge, its local presence, national support and a global network. It offers the full suite of risk management advice – including assessing and allocating risk – and insurance procurement.

The local office is connected to the talent elsewhere in the company. When clients present their specific issues, the brokerage accesses expertise from other departments to ensure they understand the possible risks that a client may face with a particular project and who is going to take responsibility for those risks through the process.

It’s this connectivity that served them well during the pandemic. EQUA was founded as a digital company with no legacy systems that needed to be maintained. This helped them better respond to the restrictions set in place when the pandemic hit. The brokerage is paperless and cloud-based, which made them naturally remote from the moment they opened their doors and that has benefited them through the entire pandemic.

Their experience with digital systems has led them to be experts in the growing field of cyber insurance. They recognize the importance of having highly secure access to fields and information from anywhere in the world using secure systems.

van Ginkel says EQUA has grown, and will continue to grow, because of the value they provide to their client.
“The value could mean something different for each client,” he said. “For some it could be advice, for others it could be a price. But, for the most part, advice is usually what our clients need the most.”

Connections are also very important to the company and that’s a key reason why the company joined SHCA. Staff pride themselves on reaching out and making the calls so they can better connect with the people in the communities they serve.

“Our membership with SHCA provides us with access to important conversations and the opportunity to learn about the challenges that the industry is facing here,” said van Ginkel. “For us, that is fundamental. We pride ourselves on offering relevant solutions and creating unprecedented value, which is only possible when we work closely together with our community. SHCA is the right place for us to grow our network and listen to the voices that make up this industry.”