Canadian Underwriter

Executive Outlook 2021: Kenny Nicholls, Western Financial Group

December 23, 2020   by Adam Malik

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Kenny Nicholls, President, CEO, Western Financial Group

Brokers have always had a unique position in the insurance industry. Adaptability has been a crucial part of the broker model and we have seen particular evidence of that this year. Our traditional ways of doing business are gone. The focus has shifted to providing options for customers quickly and efficiently.

Western has been able to adapt to the challenges of COVID by emphasizing the needs of the customer. Brokerages need to broadly understand those needs and change their value propositions to ensure a quick response. Customer experience has always been vital but perhaps never as important as it has been this year. We will maintain our omnichannel approach to our customer experience, which responds to a range of our customers’ diverse needs.

Brick-and-mortar locations will continue to provide community-based service options, while virtual call centres will support customers looking to avoid COVID exposure risk. There will be a continued need for increased technology offerings and innovation. New communication channels will be required, as will expanded hours and more contact options.

Market hardening has influenced options for some segments, but Western has been able to find solutions for many of our clients in difficult classes. However, some risks may still struggle to find coverage. We have been working with our market partners to find solutions and we continue to explore innovative ways to respond to the hard market challenges.

Opportunity exists in reinforcing the broker value proposition beyond just the price point. Winning brokerages will demonstrate to customers their understanding of market challenges, invest in technology, provide risk management expertise, and have access to capacity.

Unfortunately, a possibility exists that these changes and challenges will lead to some brokers thinking about an exit from the marketplace.

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