Canadian Underwriter

Brokers say stress may cause them to leave industry, survey finds

March 29, 2022   by Philip Porado

Canadian Underwriter National Broker Survey: Broker success strategies revealed

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Being an insurance broker has always come with its share of stress but verbatim responses to Canadian Underwriter‘s 2022 National Broker Survey found specific mentions of its impact on work satisfaction.

One respondent who indicated they were highly like to leave the industry in the next three years summed it up simply: “Too much stress.”

Another in the highly likely to leave category said market conditions were a factor. “Very stressful job in this hard market,” the respondent said.

High stress and low pay were cited as reasons by a broker who said they’d likely leave the industry in next three years.

“The public is increasingly becoming more difficult [and the] industry is becoming more litigious – higher risk of clients claiming E&Os against the broker. [The] company will throw [the] broker under the bus.” the respondent said. “[There is] not enough protection for the broker against the public. Insurance is thought of worse than lawyers now,” they added. “More and more I think about what this does to my mental health and wonder if it’s worth it.”

Another in the likely-to-leave category said the pandemic affected job satisfaction.

“The added work of processing all changes and the inflexibility in the markets, combined with the increasing upset from clients due to COVID stresses, has greatly decreased my engagement in the industry,” the respondent said.

Overall, the survey found 24% of respondents were likely or highly likely to leave, compared to 61% who said they were unlikely or highly unlikely to change careers. The remaining 15% were neutral.

The number ready to leave the profession has not varied much over three years. The 24% in 2022 compares with 23% of who were likely or highly likely to leave in 2021, and 24% during the height of the pandemic in 2020.

Those likely or highly likely to leave in 2022 generally had 15-plus years of experience.

Even those who said they’re unlikely to leave mentioned job stress.

“To be truthful, sometimes selling insurance can be boring or on the flip side stressful, as we are just the broker and don’t make the rules or set premiums,” said a respondent.

Another said the work’s become “extremely hard,” and added, “the companies are making it more difficult and stressful almost every day.”

And brokers aren’t alone.

A 2021 wellness report form Manulife found that, two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians are having a hard time managing their mental wellbeing.

“Employee mental health patterns could be K-shaped as we move through the next phase of the pandemic,” said Dr. Georgia Pomaki, director of mental health best practices at Manulife. “One arm of the K represents employees who are excited about reopening and returning to the office – the other represents a group of employees who are facing mental health challenges and significant fatigue: for this group, a return to office may feel overwhelming.”

The online survey of 6,141 employees in Manulife group plans found 16% of working hours (41 days) were lost in 2021 due to absences and presenteeism – defined as an inability to function optimally due to stress or other mental health factors.

What’s more, 48% of surveyed employees reported experiencing at least one work-related mental health risk factor.

But it’s not all bad news. One National Broker Survey respondent said that becoming an insurance broker proved to be a satisfying career change.

“[I] found an excellent brokerage to work for and am able to maintain an excellent work/life balance and keep stress levels to a minimum,” the respondent added.


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