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By choosing to segment its companies into different industries rather than offer a collection of more generalized products, W. R. Berkley is able to target niches with greater precision. This structure allows the company to allocate its resources, particularly staffing, more efficiently to respond to the particular needs of a given sector.
As the name would suggest, the Berkley Oil & Gas Specialty Services is a subsidiary focusing on the needs of those businesses in the oil and gas industry. This subsidiary was formed in 2009 and is based out of Houston, Texas, a location well known for its participation in the oil business.
The company uses a network of independent agencies to sell its products, with different agents servicing each subsidiary. In the case of Berkley Oil, policies are brokered through J.H. Blades/Swett. Other independent agencies can sell some policies by working through Blades/Swett or by being contracted directly through Berkley.
Berkley Oil & Gas Specialty Services acts as an underwriter for policies produced by various W.R. Berkley subsidiaries. In other words, it provides a wrapper for relevant services offered by all of the Berkley companies.
All policies sold through this branch of the organization are designed to meet the needs of companies in the oil and gas industry. A variety of products are offered:
- Commercial general liability: A basic liability policy that covers a business in many situations, particularly injury-related claims.
- Commercial auto liability: Liability coverage specifically for injuries and damages resulting from the use of a commercial vehicle, like a tanker truck or company car.
- Umbrella: Excess liability coverage that helps to protect a business when other sorts of liability insurance cannot fully cover a claim.
- Workers compensation: Paid to employees who are injured on the job. This coverage is required by law in most states, and it’s particularly important to the oil & gas business since many jobs required by the industry can be dangerous.
- Commercial property: Covers damages to a business’s property, including buildings and equipment, when they are damaged as a result of a covered peril.
- Inland marine: A special type of property insurance that covers damages to items in transit as well as the equipment required to ship those items. This coverage is often bought by truckers, but oil companies need it in order to protect petroleum products being shipped from one location to the next.
- Control of well: This is a specialized type of insurance coverage that helps a company re-establish a well after a blowout. It covers re-drilling expenses to return the well to its previous depth and condition. It also offers some liability protection for injuries and property damage resulting from the blowout.
These policies can be sold to any company working in the oil business, including drilling contractors, pipeline contractors, equipment dealers, and distributors.
Each of W.R. Berkley’s subsidiaries has its own website, and the Oil & Gas division is no different. The site however seems unfinished, and there is little information available for potential customers. There is no information on the site regarding obtaining a policy. There is a dedicated claims page that offers information on the company’s approach to claims, however to receive more information you’re directed to contact the dedicated claims line available 24/7, 877-515-2567.
The main W.R. Berkley site is no better. It acts primarily as a hub to link together all of the subsidiary websites and includes no agency or claims information.
The only way to obtain a Berkley policy is to identify an agency that sells that product and contact them directly.
There is not a lot offered on claims information listed on the Berkley Oil & Gas website. The “Claims” page does list the claims number as 877-515-CLMS and you are instructed to call it for more information.
Commercial insurance claims are often handled on a reimbursement basis, with receipts and claims forms being faxed to the adjuster after repairs have been made. Before doing this, however, it’s important to speak with a representative to ensure the claim will be paid. Otherwise, you can end up with a denial on damages that you’ve paid for out of pocket.
Since all Berkley policies are brokered through agencies, your agent will be the best source of information about the claims process and your specific policy.
Since Berkley Oil & Gas Specialty primarily sells specialized commercial insurance products, finding customer reviews is a challenge. Most businesses do not make a habit of reviewing or making complaints about other businesses online, making it hard to find good information about B2B companies.
Neither the W.R. Berkley Corporation nor its subsidiary, Berkley Oil & Gas, have a listing on the BBB. Berkley Oil & Gas, in particular, is a fairly new subsidiary and one without much of an established web presence.
It’s worth noting that employee reviews on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed paint a mixed picture: The ratings are polarized to 1 and 5 stars in most cases, with little in the middle. Even the positive reviews site issues with management, suggesting that this company may suffer in that regard. Dissatisfied employees can affect the quality of customer service, so this could affect the overall quality of the company.
When researching the company, bear in mind that the parent is named W.R. Berkley Corporation, which is not to be confused with the travel insurer The Berkley Group.
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Berkley Oil & Gas Specialty fills a much-needed niche, especially with the boom of oil companies being formed in the U.S.. Niche insurance is often more valuable than a more general policy since it will respond best to a business’s needs, and things like Berkley’s “control of well” coverage are only available through specialty insurers. The bottom line is there are few insurance companies that offer the products that Berkley offers, so if your in this market, they are on a short list of companies you should consider.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.