Canadian Underwriter

How brokers with digital ties get technologically inspired: InsurTech TO

April 30, 2018   by Tessie Sanci, Associate Editor

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CREDIT: 123RF.COM / RAWPIXELBrokers who are known for their technological innovation say their ideas come from talent and media outside out of the insurance industry, internal resources like insurers and vendors and also jurisdictions that are ahead of the insurance game.

This was one of the lessons to come from a panel discussion held at’s InsurTech TO conference in Toronto on Monday regarding the transformation of the modern broker.

For Adam Hare, chief operating officer of Insurance Jack, his tech background was what allowed him to develop the digital offshoot of his family’s bricks and mortar brokerage, Petley-Hare Ltd.

His story is a common one in the industry today, he says: “You keep hearing this recurring theme that some of these companies that are doing something outside of the box are generally bringing in some fresh talent.”

Insurance Jack also employs developers and designers to help the company produce its website – not the typical professions when one thinks about staffing a brokerage, he notes.

Inspirational ideas for a modern brokerage can also come from paying attention to technology publications that don’t necessarily write for the insurance industry, according to Chris Gory, another panelist and president of Insurance Portfolio Financial Services Inc.

Gory subscribes to newsletters produced by Techvibes and BetaKit. He finds the company profiles included in the digital publications interesting and tries to see if he can incorporate some of those ideas in an insurance setting.

Gory also looks within the industry. P&C technology vendors and insurers that are immersed in the InsurTech area are good sources of inspiration.

Paying attention to what other jurisdictions are doing in the insurance space is also helpful. “That is a big win. A lot of [other regions] are further head than we are in Canada so looking to what they’re doing and what’s working in the industry is a great way to get ideas for us,” added Amanda Ketelaars, another panelist and operations manager of Mitchell and Whale Insurance Brokers.

Sean Widdess, head of strategic partnerships at and the only non-brokerage professional on the panel, brought a word of warning to the audience of brokers, insurers and technology providers.

Ensure that the ideas you do implement will either improve sales or retention, he said.

“If it doesn’t do that, don’t spend any money on it,” he said. “There are a ton of cool things you can do that can make you no money.”

One way to understand what can help in either area is to go straight to the customer and ask him or her what they are looking for in terms of technological services, he suggested.

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.