Canadian Underwriter

How the pandemic changed broker prospecting for new business

June 30, 2022   by David Gambrill

Prospector panning for gold in the old west.

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High workloads during the pandemic had an impact on brokers’ ability to prospect for new business, Canadian Underwriter‘s 2022 National Broker Survey found. The survey asked more than 250 brokers nationwide in February about challenges to the broker distribution channel.

More brokers say they rely on customer referrals to drum up new business, and 71% say it’s their chief method of gaining new business, as opposed to only 63% of brokers reporting this in 2021.

Apart from referrals generally bringing in a better quality of business, one broker attributes this in part to an uncommonly high workload during the pandemic.

“Referrals, no question,” one broker commented, regarding the best way to find new clients. “In the hard market, I have no time to actively seek new clients. I consider the ones that are flowed my way.”

Indeed, the hard market made drumming up new business a bigger challenge.

The survey showed 57% of brokers found “researching a prospect before their first meeting” very beneficial. That compared to 63% last year, and 64% in 2020.

What’s more, substantive dialogue with prospects, while still popular (81% called it “very beneficial”), was down from 89% in 2020.

Part of this may have to do with brokers setting limits on their work hours, particularly in the larger brokerages. During the pandemic, brokers were more likely to make themselves available to clients outside of traditional business hours (9 am to 5 pm).

Back in 2020, when the pandemic started, 63% of brokers surveyed were finding “responding to enquiries outside of business hours” beneficial for converting prospects into new business.

This year, only 56% of brokers thought so.

And while 41% of brokers then found “contacting prospects after hours” as a good way to convert prospects into new business, only 33% said so this year.


This article is excerpted from one that appeared in the May issue of Canadian Underwriter. Feature image courtesy of