Brokers, broker management system (BMS) companies and insurance companies all need to “come together” using collaboration, communication and integration, incoming Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO) president Traci Boland said last week at the association’s 96th annual convention.
“The theme for 2017 is come together,” Boland said in advance of the CEO Panel at the convention, held at the Sheraton Centre in downtown Toronto on Thursday. “Brokers, broker management system companies and insurance companies all working together for a common goal. With every word, with every action, we want to influence the industry to work together. The key to success is evident: a team approach is paramount. We have to have a team in order to collaborate, communicate and integrate.”
She used the personal example of her first career “as far away from insurance as you could get” as a professional synchronized figure skating coach. “The team was made up of 20 skaters, all working together for a common goal – to be in unison, to be as one and to be the best,” Boland related. “Without collaboration, communication and integration on a synchronized skating team there is injuries, resentment and failure to win.”
For Boland, the goal from an insurance perspective is to ensure that consumers get the best insurance for the best price from a professional. Looking specifically at brokers, Boland said that in the past two years, she has seen “a start of some outstanding leadership with technology, point-of-sale contact and embracing young brokers and their value like never before.” The challenge, she said, is that the broker channel needs to work together and think of each other as teammates, not competitors.
“The negative rhetoric you hear about the future of brokers does not represent the truth,” Boland told convention attendees. “The opportunity that continues to lie within our business model is rich and the appetite for consumers to work with brokers is huge.”
She acknowledged that the broker network can present challenges for insurance companies. “Companies have done a fantastic job of ensuring that the products that you offer reflect the values, the new and old threats and the emergence of new technologies for our consumers,” Boland said, but noted that the challenge is the integration of these new products.
“We need to communicate with each other in the beginning stages of your products,” she said. “We need to collaborate on the implementation of a product so that brokers’ legal and regulatory obligations are met. We can work with government, partnering with you, to ensure that any regulations coming forward are in the best interest of the consumer and that your frontline brokers can sell your products as quickly as efficiently as your direct model call centres can, but with added value to the consumer.”
Looking at BMS companies, Boland said that there has been a lot to deal with in the last two years: individualized rating, rate reductions, telematics, June 1st auto reforms and a host of water products. Although the cost and time that it takes to implement these new technologies and products has been difficult, Boland acknowledged, BMS companies that are fastest to adapt and integrate will come out on top. “Integration is crucial to the survival in this business for all of us,” she emphasized. “The painful fact is that 45% of a [customer service representative]’s time is spent on data validation of a query.”
Brokers need technology to survive, which means the survival of the BMS companies in Ontario and Canada. “We need to service our clients the way they wish to be handled. Allow for brokers to have a voice on your working groups and work with the companies that have adapted new platforms on which you can communicate with,” she suggested.
“It’s a simple message: come together,” Boland concluded. “Two words that have so much power.”
The IBAO Convention was held from Oct. 19 to 21. The CEO Panel – moderated by Jim Harris, former leader of Canada’s Green Party – featured Karen Gavan, outgoing president and CEO of Economical Insurance; Jean-François Blais, president of Intact Insurance; Martin Thompson, president and CEO of RSA Canada; Greg Somerville, president and CEO of Aviva Canada; and Duane Sanders, president and CEO of Travelers Canada.
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