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Consistent approach by Canada’s p&c insurers essential to address existing, emerging issues: IBC chair


April 21, 2016   by Angela Stelmakowich, Editor


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Collaboration and consistency among Canada’s property and casualty insurers will be key as the industry looks to tackle top-of-mind issues – like the sharing economy and overland flood – in a rapidly changing and increasingly complex environment, Sylvie Paquette, chair of Insurance Bureau of Canada’s (IBC) Board of Directors, suggested at IBC’s Annual General Meeting Thursday.

Over the last year, the environment has only become more complex, Paquette (below left), vice president and CEO of p&c insurance for Desjardins Group, told attendees of the meeting in downtown Toronto. “The need to improve how we work together has become even more urgent,” she emphasized.

This is perhaps no more obvious than with the rapid emergence of the sharing economy, Paquette suggested.

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Pointing out that “UberX and Airbnb are just the beginning,” she said many more and different models – from car sharing to food delivery to skills trading – are already here or on the way. “All of these have insurance implications. We can’t let each and every one of them develop their own insurance approach,” she said.

“By being proactive through IBC, we can help develop a regulatory framework for the providers and their customers and insurers,” Paquette told attendees.

“This will benefit the public by reducing confusion and encouraging those involved in such services to get the proper insurance coverage to protect themselves and their customers,” she argued.

“It’s happening so rapidly that we didn’t have the time to really address it,” Paquette said of the sharing economy following the meeting. “It’s coming so rapidly that the solutions are coming before we are able to talk together and address that as an industry,” she told Canadian Underwriter.

That said, “if we agree that there is a need for a consistent approach, I think we will achieve that,” she emphasized.

Asked about the challenge posed by insurers releasing products before the industry has nailed down a consistent approach, Paquette told CU “this is a very hot topic right now” and one that will be on the agenda for the board’s upcoming retreat in September.

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“It is difficult to all work together and to act as rapidly as you would act on your own,” she explained, citing the need for IBC to increase the pace of moving forward in line with insurers. “If we’re too slow, individual insurers will bring their own solutions. It’s not necessarily helping consumers if it brings confusion.”

Consistency can also benefit the industry’s image, Paquette suggested. This can be achieved by “collaborating on solutions that are seen as clear, logical and beneficial by regulators and, most importantly, by consumers,” she told meeting attendees.

“At times, we must be prepared to compromise, to accept solutions that aren’t perfect, but that can be built upon and improved later on,” she added.