Canadian Underwriter

Customers increasingly receptive to digital documents

October 29, 2021   by Philip Porado

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It’s not due entirely to the pandemic but brokerage customers are more open to digital documents and focused on convenience, said panellists during an Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO) virtual convention session.

And whether those documents are delivered by email, text, an online portal or even on paper, customers’ consistent message is that they want it their way.

Kathy Curran, vice president, personal insurance, business platforms at Economical, said this customer-centric approach to document delivery must be uncomplicated, personalized and intuitive.

And, added Steve Whitelaw, vice president and general manager at Applied Systems Canada, brokers want to own and brand that journey.

“We know those multiple entry points can be confusing for customers,” he said. “And so having that consistency of experience aligned to the broker brand is critical to the ideal solution.”

The issue, said IBAO president Joseph Carnevale, is that there are 100 different companies trying to provide 100 different solutions for millions of clients.

There isn’t one solution that fits all: from insurance company to tech vendor to broker. And it shouldn’t be one solution with clients – each one wants to be dealt with differently.

“That’s the very nature of what we do as brokers so, we’re not complaining about that,” he said. “It’s really about how we get the support from insurance companies and tech vendors to give that service to our clients in the best and most efficient way possible.”

Curran said carriers must also deal with differentiations in how brokers deal with clients. Some have made larger investments in technology and systems capabilities than others.

“We’ve taken a phased approach … to provide the choice back to the broker in how the customer wants to receive documents, rather than return to an all-or-nothing, or mandated model,” she said.

Going paperless is just a small piece of the changes ahead, said Carnevale. The key thing is the client relationship and communications. A broker has a relationship with a client, presents a solution and goes to a company to underwrite the business.

Communication, he added, is a fence that allows them to solidify and take ownership of the relationship.

Curran noted both companies and brokers want to create stickiness with a customer. But she questioned whether delivering documents is an avenue to that stickiness.

“Where we, as a carrier, want to create stickiness is in claims process, is in our product, is in our price,” she said.

Inevitably, said Carnevale, the industry needs all players to collaborate to sort out document delivery.

He added the moment one, two or three insurance companies provide brokers a simple solution to get information back and forth to customers, and issue endorsements without delay, then everyone else will have to catch up.

“You give us ease of use, we’ll use it all day long,” he said. “And when we use it all day long that means those one, two or three insurance companies will benefit from brokers using their services and their products and everyone will have to keep up – because if they don’t they’ll lose ground.”

Curran agreed and added, “We don’t have a choice. The consumer is going to demand that we figure this out.”


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