March 23, 2020 by Adam Malik
Like many other brokers across the country, Myles Kuharski is still getting used to not having clients drop by the office, or heading out for regular meetings.
“That last week was one of the things that [was difficult],” he said in an interview with Canadian Underwriter. “That would be the one thing that I miss. And most brokers would miss that interaction. That’s why we do what we do.”
The global COVID-19 pandemic has turned the brokers’ traditional way of doing business upside down, and Canadian Underwriter reached out to see how brokers were adapting to the new normal.
Kuharski’s brokerage, Gillons Insurance, has 11 locations throughout Northern Ontario, with a head office in Fort Frances. Like many other brokerages across Canada, Gillons Insurance has closed its doors to walk-in clients. While some staff remain, others are working from home.
For Kuharski, a commercial lines account executive based in the Thunder Bay, Ont., office, it didn’t take long to miss seeing his clients in person.
“It’s really only been a week-and-half of this since everything’s set in,” he said. “And it’s changing by the hour in some cases, too. Being cooped up, whether it’s in an office where you don’t have an opportunity to see customers or go see them, or being at home, I think that’s where brokers [are feeling this]. And me, certainly I enjoy the interactions I have with my customers and the general public. I think that’s going to be the biggest issue.”
Phone calls and video conferencing are now part of the day-to-day operations, but being with people in person is not an easy void to fill.
“It’s been nice to talk to people [over the phone], but we’re missing out on valuable face-to-face interaction that really gives the value of the broker,” Kuharski said. “And that’s going to get harder as we go along here.”
Value can be demonstrated in others ways, of course. In fact, he points out that brokers can take this time as an opportunity to show where their strengths lie beyond the typical tasks that customers expect of them. Clients “are scared of what might be happening with their business,” he said prior to both the Quebec and Ontario governments shutting down non-essential services province-wide.
“It’s a good contact point for brokers to show their value of what they can provide outside of insurance advice,” Kuharski continued. “For most brokers, a lot of our customers become our community members, our friends, and all that kind of stuff. It’s a good opportunity for brokers to show value and I’m trying to look at it that way even though the circumstances you hear are very negative out there.”
How are you coping? Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to share your experiences during this new reality.