Canadian Underwriter

Getting with the times

December 13, 2017   by Greg Dalgetty

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I still take cabs. I’m happy to be the guy standing on the street in the pouring rain, waving my arm in the air, hoping to catch a ride in a real, honest-to-goodness taxi.

You may be wondering what I—a reasonably tech-savvy dude in his 30s with a smartphone and valid credit card—would be doing getting drenched waiting for a cab when I could just be hailing an Uber on my phone from the comfort of indoors.

The answer is simple: I’ve already got enough apps on my phone. I just don’t want another one draining my battery, and that’s all there is to it. Plus, I live in Toronto, where it’s still relatively easy to catch a cab.

That said, I totally get why people use Uber. It’s far more convenient and usually cheaper (surge pricing excepted, I suppose). It’s a better user experience. If cabs just up and disappeared, I’d go ahead and download Uber—actually, probably Lyft, which should be available at press time—and start using it. Times change, and I can change with them. Try telling that to a cab driver, though.

Now, by this point, you may be wondering what any of this has to do with insurance. Be patient. I’m getting there.

There’s been much ado among insurers and brokers about “going digital” in recent years. The insurance industry, as you know, has been slow to catch up in the digital game. Fintech left insurance in its dust, while digital ride hailing has made the traditional cab industry increasingly irrelevant.

So, what about insurance brokers? Some of them have dived headfirst into the 21st century, like the Digital Broker Alliance, who we featured last issue. Others have perhaps been a little slower to adapt.

I interviewed the CEOs of 12 insurance companies for this issue, and many of them basically said the same thing: they want to work with brokers who are forward-thinking when it comes to consumer preferences (read: buying things online).

Some brokers may feel threatened by the digital age of doing business, and I get that too. Change can be scary. But, as one CEO told me, “going digital doesn’t mean going direct.” Across the board, insurers seem eager to team with brokers who are working to serve clients digitally.

Now, cab drivers can complain all they want about how unfair Uber is, but is Uber going away? Of course not.

So, to the brokers who may feel uneasy about the insurance industry’s digital revolution, I’d ask the same question: Do you think this will just go away? You can choose to view digital as a threat or an opportunity. What’s your choice going to be?

And, before I sign off, happy holidays! On behalf of everyone at CITB, we can’t wait to give you more of the news you can use in 2018.

Copyright © 2017 Transcontinental Media G.P. This article first appeared in the December 2017 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.