Canadian Underwriter

Editorial: Progressive causes are in the industry’s financial interest

November 20, 2015   by Jeff Pearce

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One thing that baffled me this election is how Harper’s Conservatives kept the myth alive that their party is the only one supportive of business; the assertion went largely unchallenged. Now lest you think I’m about to go on an anti-Tory rant that’s about as welcome after an election as week-old fish, I assure you I’m not. I genuinely believe there’s a place for right-of-centre positions. My real beef is with those who voted for their wallet or company rather than for the good of the nation. Because the real work is still ahead of us.

In the same way Rob Ford’s behaviour went beyond party lines and demeaned the office of Toronto mayor, what’s happened in this country over the last few years goes beyond political labels and needs repair. When, for example, a government obliterates the office of the national science advisor, intrudes on research to steer it away from examining the environment and muzzles the public statements of scientists, that’s not good for business.Scientific research is supposed to be for all Canadians, including the insurance industry, which absolutely needs data that presents bad news as well as good. Climate change means more claims, and it means you need to bring in the actuaries to geek on government data and tell you where future risks may lie in wait. No data, no risk assessments. It’s an astonishingly simple equation.

So did you vote based on how one party’s promises might affect your company’s or brokerage’s bottom line? Because you need to understand something that’s one of today’s unfair, unpalatable truths: much of the public at large hates your industry.

Time and again, fairly or not, insurance professionals are lumped in with those who personify Wall Street and Bay Street greed. It’s why I’ve been banging on for more than a year about how the industry needs to take up progressive causes—gun control, response to climate change—that are actually in its financial interest.

So if you voted based solely on whether a certain party has a blinkered approach to auto insurance or another’s promise to tax higher income brackets, then you did us all a disservice. No political party has a monopoly on “best for business.” And the nation’s final choice can’t obscure a larger battle going on for the soul of the West; an increasing hostility towards capitalism that spans generations and several income brackets. The nature of reform will depend on who gets in the game.

So I renew my call for the industry to start knocking on doors in Ottawa, as well as in Washington, London and Brussels and collaborate with the old guard and changing guard. Call this effort the new best practices.

Copyright 2015 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the November 2015 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.