The Reliance Insurance Management Team
Jim Ball, President
Jim started out as an insurance claims adjuster and has worn many hats for insurers both in Canada and the U.S. However, his life’s work for the past 30+ years is the Reliance Insurance Group and he has been growing and nurturing it since he bought a small brokerage in 1985.
Today the Reliance Group is comprised of seven insurance or insurance related companies in both the wholesale and retail side of the business and has grown to 113 employees. In 2014 Reliance purchased and renovated an office building in Burnaby BC and relocated its head office and all of its companies to this new location in 2016.
During his career, Jim has also been a leader in both the local and national insurance communities as Past President of the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada, the Insurance Brokers Association of British Columbia, the Greater Vancouver Insurance Brokers Association and Sales and Marketing Executives of Vancouver. He served for six years on the board of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) the last two as chair of the non-executive board.
Jim’s love of helping others isn’t limited to the insurance community. Among the many charities, he supports through Reliance is Bridges to Community Canada. He is a founding Bridges board member, an organization focused on addressing poverty in Nicaragua, the second poorest country in the hemisphere. Over the last 10 years the group has raised over $2,000,000, built 220 houses, two schools, one library and numerous latrines and biodigesters. Come and join Jim on his next house building trip to Nicaragua. It changes lives.
Chris Ball, CEO
You will often see Chris in tow behind Griffen - Giant Schnauzer - his best animal friend. Griffen's office is equipped with a dog bed, treats, and toys, leaving a small corner for Chris to work with Reliance’s Leadership Team in managing the Reliance Insurance Group of Companies.
Chris started out at Reliance as an account manager in 1995. However, he left in 1998 to cut his teeth on Fortune 1000 accounts at some of the largest insurance firms in the world in Vancouver, New York, and San Francisco, gaining extensive expertise developing complex risk management and insurance programs. But home is where the heart is, and Chris returned to Reliance Insurance in 2005, where he has served as Vice President and now CEO.
In keeping with family tradition, Chris is active in both local and national insurance communities, where he has been involved in the Insurance Brokers Association of British Columbia and the Insurance Bureau of Canada, as well as the British Columbia Food Processors Association (BCFPA) where he won the Rising Star Award. He has also volunteered his time at a variety of charities, such as Caring for Our Youth, Kiwassa Neighborhood House, the East Vancouver Community Policing Office, North Shore Community Foundation, and of course, Bridges for Community Canada, where he leads trips to Nicaragua on behalf of Reliance Insurance.
Sharon Hardy, CFO
As the CFO of Reliance Insurance, Sharon Hardy isn’t just helping to run one of the largest family-owned insurance brokerages in BC, she is secretly fulfilling a childhood dream of being a teacher: she helps staff in the organization work toward their goals, and ensures that the company maintains a fiscally responsible position in the marketplace while moving forward.
After graduating from SFU, Sharon joined Pat Anderson Insurance, and through the years has helped lead that organization through growth and transition. She continues to do this at Reliance Insurance, managing complex moves, and bringing in the new Broker Management System - EPIC.
In addition to spending time with family and friends, reading and travelling, Sharon has two passions – education and volunteering, although she might say that they could be considered the same thing. A lifelong learner, Sharon has her CIP designation and is completing a Fellowship at Simon Fraser. She, like others at Reliance Insurance, is involved with Bridges to Communities and travelled to Nicaragua to build homes for those in need. She said of the journey, “This was a truly inspiring experience. They say we changed their world but the experience totally changed mine.”
Christina Smith, HR & Payroll Manager
Christina loves her many jobs as she wears many hats within the Reliance Insurance Agencies. Her office door is always open to the staff unless she is on a payroll deadline. You can always find her working in her exotic lime green office or running around our beautiful office building taking care of staff, computer issues or fixing things.
Christina has had a few different careers over the years. She was the first female in BC to design and build pubs and restaurants in the lower mainland. In the 90’s she started a recruitment, training, administration and payroll company that was exclusive to Rogers Cable Corporate Division in Burnaby. Subsequently, she was talked into working for a local nsurance broker Pat Anderson Insurance in 2000 where she developed the human resources and payroll department. In 2013 Reliance Insurance acquired Pat Anderson Insurance and it was a great decision to make her the human resources payroll manager of all the Reliance companies across Canada.
Christina is a Certified Human Resources Manager. She is a member of the Canadian Payroll Association and the Human Resources Management Association of BC. She has worked with many charitable organizations in the past including Variety Club, Big Brothers Canada, Children’s Hospital, SPCA and the last couple of years has devoted most of her time to Reliance's own charity, Bridges to Community Canada. Christina enjoys being a part of our new community in Burnaby Heights and working with the Burnaby Board of Trade.
Sandra Sobarzo is the Personal Insurance Manager at Reliance Insurance, acting as team captain for over 35 qualified account managers specializing in high-value home, automobile, and marine pleasure craft insurance. While she is responsible for staffing levels, office procedures, program development, and customer service standards, she also develops the team and their personal goals, ensuring that everyone is moving forward.
Sandra honed her people and administrative skills early on, working in management at other local insurance organizations before landing at Reliance Insurance. However, her drive, team focus, and leadership were also crafted by her love for soccer - Sandra has spent over 15 years as a Metro soccer team member and assistant coach. Her excellence on the field and off has helped her become a significant asset to the management team at Reliance Insurance.
Although Reliance Insurance prides itself on putting our clients first at all times, Evan Miles, Vice President, Claims, has taken this philosophy to the next level. In fact, that is the primary function of his role: he supports Reliance Insurance’s clients when they are involved in a particularly complex liability or property claim. He also acts as a customer advocate to ensure that clients receive the best possible service when they are with Reliance Insurance.
Evan’s diverse professional experience has helped him become the perfect person for this role. He started as a firefighter, rising to Deputy Fire Chief before moving into the insurance industry as an independent insurance adjuster. After a number of interesting roles – he handled all litigated claims for BC’s largest insurer, managed special investigations, and ended up as Operations Manager, Western Canada for Canada’s largest independent adjusting firm - Evan landed at Reliance Insurance through his involvement with Pat Anderson.
In keeping with his zeal for serving clients and his industry, Evan also writes and presents courses on insurance through the Insurance Brokers Association of BC, and has volunteered with a number of charities which have made great contributions through the insurance industry. He has many passions outside of insurance as well, including being a stage actor, musician, and terrible golfer, but none compare to the loves of his life - a 1953 Ford and 1950 Mercury - and if you look carefully you may still see a dirty fingernail or two from working on his car babies.