"Winners are those who put service first." Arcady Burdo.
We are on a mission to inform our readers about latest industry developments as well as present key players on different fields of transportation. Today we talk to Arcady Burdo, Insurance and Financial specialist.
DorogaRoad: There is some serious competition in the insurance market today. How does your company, The Road Side Edge, single out among the others?
Arcady Burdo: First of all, this company is not mine (laughs). As you know, I am an independent broker and can work with absolutely any company, which offers services for truckers. I periodically receive offers from various different players on the market to work with them. I have worked with The Roadside Edge (Edge) closely for about six years. Up till now I have no reasons to doubt that this company is the leader in Canadian trucking market. The dominance effect is visible daily. I realize that the competitors will probably say the same thing, but we have right to choose the company we believe to be the best one. By the way, Edge has quality warranty stated on their application, if you find same benefits but cheaper within thirty days, you will receive full refund from us. As far as I know this thing has never been practiced before. I know that Edge offers value for money; this is definitely the best choice on the market. I have all reasons to believe in this. Let’s consider the major factors. I am not going to name some particular competitors, but Edge does not have payment limit; other companies, which offer their own insurance plans, many of them, at least have some limit – $180,000; $250,000 or any other amount, but the limit is there. This makes all the difference. Say, there is a forty-year-old driver, on the average drivers are around that age these days, and he has benefits of three thousand a month. God forbid, he gets into an accident and develops full disability. Edge is one of the few companies, if not the only one, which will pay him all the way, up until he is a seventy-year-old man. Other companies pay only until 65. If you add up the benefits paid up from age forty until seventy, the total amount will be more than million dollars, when the other companies would have paid only about $180,000. This is extremely important.
Edge offers Age Benefits – up to $110,000 of accidental medical benefits - ambulance, chiropractics, physiotherapy, and others. None of the other companies pay something like that as far as I know.
Edge has a backup from such a huge company as RBC; it is a great factor, since that company is one of the largest, if not the largest, financial group in Canada. Our company in fact has a long history of paying the benefits, tens of years. RBC and its predecessors have a more than a hundred year old history. This tells you a lot.
I can see this advantage by watching my own clientele. I know if an accident has happened; either at work or at home, the person gets hurt and then the insurance company compensates them. Edge pays the benefits fast and easily, without unnecessary questions. We give full support from A to Z in this office. Winter period can be particularly busy, when we receive a few claims every month. RBC has a special department that deals with claims only from Edge. They make sure everything goes fast, effectively, and without any problems. As they say, time is money. Bearing in mind such company as RBC gives me a great sense of comfort.
This is a simple product with guaranteed benefits payment. I have come across some cases when I received calls at 7 am or 11 pm from drivers or company managers I work with. Say a driver has to leave for a trip and he needs to be covered immediately. Once he signs the policy document, he is already covered. No extra questions asked. The plan is built up around the main disability benefits, a group plan, you can say, that will include all the details in case of different accidents, we can add serious injury, critical illness, we can also add life insurance, and so on. Everything is included in one package, with the coverage provided by the basic policy, the simplified plan without medical questions asked. This is important for the driver as well as for me.
DorogaRoad: You mentioned that an accident might take place at work as well as at home. You cover those cases as well (say, a person fell at home)?
Arcady Burdo: Sure, it is covered. Statistically speaking, most of the accidents naturally and logically do not happen at work. I have seen some cases from curious ones to ironically funny and sad at the same time. Once a man was making barbecue and broke his leg, another was skiing and broke his hand, or hurt himself on his own ladder or even in his own bed. All of those cases were covered.
DorogaRoad: Can you point out a particular product that you offer that is the most popular among your clients?
Arcady Burdo: The insurance coverage is like a puzzle, which you can set up with different sections, like a kid’s pyramid. The base, surely, is the income compensation; this is of main concern for drivers in trucking industry. What if the driver breaks a leg, hand, gets some other injury due to some ridiculous accident. He can’t drive a truck then. Thus, income compensation and expenses coverage is the major thing they need. This is called income replacement benefit. Furthermore, surely, they need travel coverage, since most of them work outside of Canada; like, I think 90% of drivers do today. Once they leave Ontario and enter US in particular, they need “out of province travel insurance” since medical expenses can be astronomically high there, (we are talking about seven digit numbers). The guys always take this benefit. The other additional benefits are not very expensive; those include lethal accidents, serious injuries, paralysis, and loss of a limb, etc… There is a whole list of such benefits. All of those benefits are usually included in a single package. Then we offer optional benefits and additional life insurance, you might need dental coverage, etc… But the main ones are the ones I named already - income replacement, medical coverage and lethal outcomes.
DorogaRoad: From what you said, Edge has some unique sides such as Age Benefits limit. Are there any other features that Edge offers and its competitors do not?
Arcady Burdo: I am probably going to repeat myself on this. The age limit offered by Edge is not offered by most of the competitors as far as I know. Our company covers up to age of 70, others - until 65. It is also important to mention that other companies do not provide $110,000 for medical expenses. I do not like to be interpreted much like a sales-person today, but I ground my statements on the real practice as well as seminars and presentations that I visit quite often; the company has the best disability definitions in the industry. For instance, anything like sprained shoulders, legs; things happened quite often. It would seem like a simple thing, and we could work with that just fine, but the drivers cannot. Other companies offer compensation maximum for 15 or 30 days or even offer nothing in such cases. Edge pays up to 60 days. Up to 60 days, the driver can relax and recover without having to worry about the stopped paycheque.
Furthermore, we have the instances covered in the contract details. Drivers, surely, often enough fail to read those. I understand them perfectly well, with all the crazy life they have to go through. My task, as a broker, is to always have access to the best options out there. Edge has always been a leader to provide such options as well as in terms of definitions.
Edge is also always looking for feedback; we need to learn from our own experience how we can better serve our clients. Many things we learned are analyzed and applied to our products. I personally offered a few proposals since I specialize in different areas of financial planning and can see a broader picture. I realize that other companies will aggressively market their products and will try to do things as Edge does or even better. Edge meanwhile will keep on developing and offering something new. It is a usual economical strategy. Edge, considering its quality and cost for the customer, in my view, is the best insurance provider around.
DorogaRoad: You work with truck drivers for many years already. You probably visit trucking companies quite often. What do you think distinguishes successful truck companies from the not-so successful ones?
Arcady Burdo: That is a very good question. This is particularly relevant these days, since the trucking industry is going through some hard times. The combination of gas prices and the high Canadian dollar simply “kills” many companies these days. I am not an expert, but I am judging from what I see and what I hear talking to the company owners I work with and have quite close friendly relationships with. Current market well separates the flies from the chops. It does not matter whether they (companies) are Russian, Ukrainian, or Canadian. There are companies that make it, while others do not. As you can tell, the economy is in such situation today that only the strongest and the smartest will survive. The same rules apply for any business; the thing that matters is service, specifically speaking creativity and relationships. The companies that will win are the ones, which put client, and customer service first, which stay in business to not only puff the cheeks out and go down in two days, which consider business as a marathon, not a sprinter run. Today, what makes it harder is also that the profit margins went down, the income decreased for everyone starting from the company owners and going all the way to the drivers. But as the saying goes, sometime surgery is serves as a therapy. Right now, we are going through the surgery process. The companies which will make it through and become more flexible, or already have, and pass this period not thinking much about their profit at the moment, but rather about tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.
This situation will change, everything changes. I am sure about that. Soon enough, the gas can’t stay so expensive for long. Trucking industry has always been a catalyser. It suffers before anything else does, but recovers the first as well, once everything is back to normal. The best companies will make it. Not necessarily the largest ones, but those that follow the right strategies. The main point remains to be the customer focused and have the right attitude towards the drivers that affects their attitude towards the business. Surely, one more important factor is professionalism of the team. All those factors distinguish a successful company today.
DorogaRoad: Do you have to adjust your work approaches to adapt to the current situation, or you just keep on working by the same scheme, staying loyal to your strategies.
Arcady Burdo: My approaches never change. Service and quality have always been in the banner of our company. “Quality blended with excellent service” – I believe this to be at the base of a successful business. In this sense we have always been providing best service and customer support. The clients know when they sign the application our relationship with them just starts, not ends, as I often hear it happens in our market. Our personnel serves customer in the best possible way and so do I.
Surely trucking industry goes through a lot of hardship these days. Considering the numerous factors, the drivers simply do not have the money, as the entire industry is short on funds today. It changes everything; we had cases when our wide policies plan with various coverage, had to be cut out.
We go through those hard times together with everyone else. However, I never pressure the client. I know that when the client can afford a hundred-dollar package, I will never tell him that a hundred and one dollar is a better choice. I never put commission earned as my priority. By the way, Edge is the company that does not pay top commission to its dealers. There are some other companies which pay better commission. I always look at the benefits my clients get first. But the fact that the drivers suffer in terms of work volume and sometimes get burnt, not literally but in a way that the company they work for simply disappears without paying out the last couple of cheques; it’s a catastrophe, especially for owner operators. I had some cases when we had to cancel some policies or freeze them since the person found himself out of work. I never look down on them since I realize what a hard time they are having right now. I work closely with trucking business for six years and I realize that this business is a tough one. Some guys enter this industry by their inner call, but some simply because they can’t find something better. This applies particularly to drivers from Russian and Ukrainian communities; we speak the same language, not even literally, and we will go through those hard times together.
Sometimes we are forced to cut the policies. Cancelling all of them out is an extreme case, but it happens as well. Say a person looses his job or his company collapsed, or something else happened. We can always make some changes in the policy to make it through the hard times and then return to the original coverage once client is back on track with a new job or new company.
Am I adjusting in some other ways? Yes, I always try to help, explain, to find compromise options.
DorogaRoad: Tell me some funny stories you came across during your career.
Arcady Burdo: It is hard to recall some right of top of my head. There are different life stories of course, mix of humour and grief. The stories behind the claims we receive are not unique for trucking industry. Recently we had a story when a man hit a cow and loosened his own tooth in this accident. I am not sure what happened to the cow then but one of them had to pay a visit to a dentist. Deer on the road is a common case. There is a client who woke up in the morning and could not turn his neck. Naturally, we, as an insurance company, had a discussion with him on how it had happened. The rest of the stories are more personal.
Well, the industry is a not a boring one, that is for sure. I try to support my clients in different situations of their lives. I have between my clients’ two friends, classmates. They lost trace of each other long time ago, but then met online at “odnoklassninki.ru” (Russian equivalent of Facebook, DR). Now they are working as a team in on of the trucking companies in Toronto. Life is life and we should always help each other.
DorogaRoad: Is there anything else you planned to tell me, maybe there is something I failed to ask.
Arcady Burdo: I would simply like to wish a good health for the guys, drivers as well as for all of us; strength, energy, good mood, positive thinking in any hard situation they may come across these days. I like to work with drivers; there is some chemistry between us. I understand that they have hard life and the issues that their families go through. We should honour them and their wives. Their families do not see them for three or even more weeks. I would like to wish them all the best and good, lucky roads ahead.
For the companies, my clients, no matter which community they are from, I would like to wish enough strength to go through these hard times with pride, as most of them in fact do these days. When it rains during a parade, the rain will stop sooner or later. Everything will stabilize, I am sure of it; it will be easier for them soon enough and they will be rewarded for the work they do today.
As for the executives, the owners of those companies, and business people in general, I would like to advise not to change their attitude towards business, since any good work gives results sooner or later, and everything they give today will be paid them back. Just like in any business, everything is built on the fact that if you want to receive something, you have to give something beforehand. As the great Omar Khayyam said: What you gave will be given to you, what you kept will be lost. I would like to wish such attitude for all the businessmen, my colleagues.
It is a common practice in any religion by the way to give one tenth, we should not forget about the ones close to us, the ones in need, our relatives, charity programs, sick children hospitals, heart and stroke foundations, cancer societies, and so on. We try to support and donate for others in church, in synagogue. This is an important action for any business. We should not forget this even during the current hard period in our life. I wish all of you good luck and success.
DorogaRoad: Thank you for the interview.