Canadian Underwriter

Message from the President

May 18, 2016   by Fred Plant, President, Canadian Independent Adjusters' Association

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Ours is a noble profession and you should be proud of the important work you do, every day – delivering the product of the Property & Casualty Insurance Industry in Canada.

Plant Fred CIAA

The Ontario Chapter of the Canadian Independent Adjusters’ Association (CIAA) and The Canadian Insurance Claims Managers Association (CICMA) recently collaborated on their 49th annual joint conference which was held in Toronto during the first week of February. These organizations put on collaborative seminars across Canada to promote professional development and encourage contact between Insurers’ claims staff and CIAA-member Independent Adjusters.

This year’s theme was “Technology Bytes Insurance” and focused on disruptive technologies and potential new exposures affecting the P&C Industry. The term disruptive technology was coined approximately 20 years ago and refers to technological change that displaces an established technology and shakes up the industry. Change. There’s that word again.

Those in attendance heard from a distinguished panel of P&C claims and underwriting veterans speculating on what impact technological change will have on the P&C Insurance Industry and what claims people might reasonably expect do to be prepared for what is coming our way.

The difficulty with all of this, as was really driven home by the day’s keynote speaker, well-known CBC journalist Jesse Hirsh who is described, among other things, as an internet evangelist, is that no one really knows what will come our way or even what has already come our way and the impact it will have on our businesses.

Since 1688 the Property and Casualty Insurance Industry has been evolving. Much has changed in the world over the last 328 years and while, admittedly, more has happened in the last 58 years than happened in the first 270 of those years, the fact is the insurance industry has adapted to changing technologies and so too will it adapt to what is now before us and is to come.

I am not so optimistic that governments and the legal system will be as proactive and adaptive to the rush of change we are experiencing, however the insurance industry has a pretty good record of identifying and filling needs and opportunities.

The subject of overland flooding is a recent example of such adaptation. Forever, such coverage was just not offered as there was no demand. However, when the profile of the coverage gap was elevated, the industry responded and that coverage is available today.

We traveled a long way on that in a relatively short time span. There was also a time when there was no automobile insurance.

As needs develop and coverages are written to fill those needs, the process of fine-tuning the coverage will be accomplished through experience. There are risks out there covered by policies that were never designed to cover those risks; and we do not even know what the risks are and won’t know until the claim notices start flowing. That’s where the skilled claim professional comes in. These disruptive technologies should be viewed as tremendous opportunities for Independent Adjusters to put to use their skills in completing detailed investigations and understanding the implications of events in relation to coverage.

There will be many tests of coverage that will shape the policies that get designed to cover the risks that emerge with evolving technologies. There will be great uncertainty and cool heads will prevail. Overall, these so-called disruptive technologies are really a new name on what our industry has been dealing with for over three centuries. We thrive on this stuff. Opportunity is knocking. Seize the opportunity.

Members of CIAA from across Canada will be meeting at the CIAA National Convention to be held in beautiful Saint Andrews, New Brunswick, September 22-25, 2016. Mark those dates in your calendar and start planning to attend. We are at a turning point in our profession. Be part of steering us in the right direction.

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