July 18, 2018 by Greg Dalgetty
Since the dawn of time—well, maybe not quite that far back—insurance brokers have struggled to select a broker management system (BMS) that’s right for them.
Different brokers have different needs— different business lines, different clients and different geographies. What works in a BMS for one broker won’t work for another.
And the process of selecting a BMS has never been easy. Brokers have always had to rely on information from vendors giving them a sales pitch, rather than having access to a wide-ranging assessment of various technologies.
But now, that’s changed.
After consulting with its broker partners, Aviva Canada felt it was high time brokers had access to a scorecard on the BMS technology available today. So the insurer decided to help create one.
In March, Aviva hosted the Broker Insurance Tech Awards at its Digital Garage in downtown Toronto. Five BMS vendors—Applied Systems, Keal Technologies, Brokercore, TechCanary and Power Broker—presented their platforms to a panel of judges from IBAC, IBAM, IBAA, IBAO, IBANS, the Centre for Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO) and Aviva.*
Also in attendance for the presentations was an audience of brokers. In fact, Aviva had so many brokers register for the event that some had to be turned away.
“Sometimes, brokers have felt there hasn’t been enough functionality with the software they’ve purchased and they’re looking for more,”
The BMS systems were judged on 11 different categories, and one vendor was selected as having the best overall presentation. The result? The Broker Insurance Tech Awards Scorecard (see facing page).
Canadian Insurance Top Broker was invited to attend the Broker Insurance Tech Awards to get a firsthand look at the vendor presentations, interview members of the judging panel and talk to the Aviva team who conceived of the project.
“There’s probably about 10–20% of brokers who are digitizing their whole business and doing their own things,” Tom Reid, Aviva Canada’s executive director of digital broker strategy, told CITB. “But the other 80% of brokers…need to have the systems that they’ve already paid for help them digitize.”
The cost of a BMS is significant—and transitioning from one system to another is no mean feat—so it’s incumbent on brokers to choose wisely.
“Brokers have been asking for a tool like this for years,” said Kim Opheim, a technology consultant with IBAC and a member of the judging panel.
To date, brokers have largely been left to their own devices when selecting a BMS, said Dwight Heppner, who represented IBAM on the judging panel.
“Basically, you’re doing your own research,” he said. “You’re trying to find out what potentially could be best for you, but you don’t really go through the process we’re going through today to find out every little bit of information that you, as a broker, want to have in your solution.”
That approach has often led to brokers being disappointed with the BMS they choose.
“I think there’s a risk that, for a number of brokers, choosing a BMS provider has been a grudge decision,” said Jason Storah, Aviva Canada’s executive vice-president of broker distribution. “That’s not right. I don’t think BMS companies want that; certainly their customer group doesn’t want that, and we don’t want that when we’re relying on them from a connectivity perspective.”
One of the criteria by which BMS systems were judged was their ability to integrate with insurance carrier technology.
Earlier this year, IBAC launched its D/X Action Plan, with the goal of establishing real-time technology integration between insurers and brokers using the D/X Model, which adheres to CSIO data exchange standards. The plan would require industrywide buy-in from insurers to allow brokers to have equal access to multiple markets.
“One thing we want to reinforce is the importance of standards when it comes to facilitating electronic sales and service of insurance products through the broker channel,” Opheim said. “We feel that it’s really important for vendors and carriers to adhere to those standards, and that will ease the development burden for all parties.”
“What we want to get to is a point where the broker can enter information into their BMS, which then updates our system and feeds back any underwriting issues right there and then,” Reid said. “[Brokers] need to have multiple markets, which means there needs to be a standard way of talking.”
Although Aviva Canada organized the inaugural Broker Insurance Tech Awards, the plan is to have IBAC manage the program going forward. This would ensure the scorecard is updated annually to include the latest BMS options available to brokers.
Next year, IBAC is hoping to convince even more vendors to participate in the event. Some were understandably leery about presenting their software and having it judged with an audience of brokers watching. But, given the success of this year’s event, Opheim is optimistic that even more vendors will be on board in 2019.
“Now that the vendors have had a chance to look at the process—not just look at it, but participate in the process—I’m hoping that that will really improve their comfort level going forward and that they’ll be less reluctant to participate,” he said.
And Opheim is optimistic that a recurring event will see vendors continually upping their game.
“Sometimes, brokers have felt there hasn’t been enough functionality with the software they’ve purchased and they’re looking for more,” he said. “So with an event like this, our hope is that it will encourage the development of new functionality.”
*Custom Software Solutions Inc. (CSSI) also presented at the Broker Insurance Tech Awards, but declined to have its platform judged.
Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. This article first appeared in the April edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine
This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.