Canadian Underwriter

Executive Outlook 2021: Valérie Lavoie, Desjardins

December 22, 2020   by David Gambrill

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Valérie Lavoie, President, Chief Operating Officer, Desjardins General Insurance Group

The COVID-19 pandemic will drive big changes in Canada’s P&C insurance industry.

At Desjardins, it’s accelerating our digital transformation as clients increasingly embrace our expanding online and mobile services for sales, policy changes and other services, and claims reporting and tracking.

In recent months, the percentage of clients opting for paperless service using our online or mobile solutions has increased by double digits. With the simplicity and convenience of online services, clients are unlikely to go back to more traditional ways of contact once the pandemic is over.

This doesn’t mean there’s no role for personalized service. Many clients still value their local, trusted agent to explain and recommend the proper insurance coverage and provide help with other financial products. Building this type of relationship takes time, but it creates lasting customer loyalty.

Our goal is to combine both — streamlined digital services with trusted personalized advice — by building our omnichannel capabilities, enabling clients to connect when, where, and how they wish.

The pandemic might also be a catalyst for shifting customers’ driving habits. Many will continue to work remotely from home while shopping and conducting other transactions online. Insurers need to adapt to clients’ needs in this new context and adjust products and services. Telematics systems like our Ajusto program can help by providing real-time insight into changing behaviours.

As the pandemic showed, severe disruptive events can happen suddenly and unexpectedly. With global warming and other potential threats, insurers must be agile to support clients and their communities. What matters most are the people affected. As insurers, and especially for a cooperative like Desjardins, our responsibility is to develop and provide options to help protect their assets.

Looking forward, there is much uncertainty including how claims will evolve and the speed of the economic recovery. What is certain is that there are both challenges and opportunities ahead.

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