Canadian Underwriter

The key for brokers to stand out from the competition

June 11, 2018   by Greg Meckbach

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For property and casualty insurance brokers, providing “exceptional customer service” is at least as important as the insurance products themselves, suggests one underwriter.

“There are a lot of people out there who sell insurance,” Jenny Hallahan, manager of underwriting for Listowel, Ont.-based Trillium Mutual Insurance Company, told Canadian Underwriter Friday.

So one challenge, if you are a broker, is “how you separate yourself” from the competition “and how you provide something that’s exceptional so that people want to buy insurance from you.”

Hallahan made her comments in Niagara Falls during an interview after the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario’s Young Brokers Conference, held June 6 through 8.

She was one of five executives from insurance carriers on hand to offer feedback to during the IBAO YBC Team Challenge, in which teams of young brokers were given a case study.

Trillium Mutual donated the $5,000 prize money awarded to the team judged Friday to have the best presentation.

The case study was on a brokerage in mid-sized city with $10 million in annual premium volume and 4,060 customers. YBC teams were asked to develop a one-year business plan to transform the business. The hypothetical brokerage has a website but no online quoting system. As well, the website is not optimized for wireless devices.

The brokerage in the case study was “struggling,” and the YBC teams were asked for their views on what changes were needed in areas such as staffing, culture and technology, Hallahan noted.

If you are a young person starting a career as a P&C broker, “you are selling a lot of different products,” Hallahan said in an interview. “Your customer is trusting you to provide the knowledge, so you have to have an understanding of insurance.”

Insurance products “can be taught once you get into the industry,” added Hallahan. “If you are a sales-focused person who is excited to be part of something, I think that insurance is in interesting [career] option for anyone out there.”

IBAO encourages brokers with less than five years’ industry experience or who are under 40 years of age to join its Young Brokers Council.

Trillium Mutual’s products include farm, commercial and personal lines.

“At Trillium we try to take a lot of time and speak directly to our consumers, asking them, ‘Do you understand insurance and do you know what you’re buying and do you want more education on it?’” Hallahan said. “A lot of the time the response that we get is, ‘I trust my broker, they know what they are doing and we have a lot of faith in the services that are providing.’”

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