Canadian Underwriter

How carriers could save brokers from ‘drowning in friction’

February 23, 2021   by Greg Meckbach

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If your brokerage is bogged down dealing with the new ways your carrier partners are doing business, you aren’t alone.

As insurance companies improve their products, introduce paperless initiatives, and upgrade from legacy systems, their broker partners often need to learn new workflows, Steve Earle, president of Bedford, N.S.-based Bauld Insurance Ltd., observed in a recent interview.

“We are drowning in friction,” he said. “We are trying to compete against direct writers, but we are just weighed down with added complexities.”

Earle acknowledges the industry needs to bring in paperless initiatives.

“In a perfect world, [if] an insurance company [introduces] any kind of initiative – be it paperless, legacy system upgrade, portal changes, product reforms and so on – I would love it if they would ask themselves at a high level, ‘What are we doing here to remove steps that the broker needs to do? Or are we adding steps?’ And if the answer is adding steps, they should find another way.”

Canadian Underwriter had asked Earle whether brokers should highlight certain parts of home insurance policies for clients.

It’s important for brokers to point out to homeowners if their policy terms are changing on renewal, Earle observes. But because brokers must take time to sort out any additional complexities arising from the carriers’ new paperless initiatives, it is difficult for brokers to take time to talk to clients when they are renewing their polices.

“Since COVID started, we are at three different waves now to manage insurers going paperless,” he said. “That is just since COVID. When do we have time to do our jobs as effective brokers?”

With carriers upgrading systems, it is not uncommon for a brokerage staff to have to learn 50 new workflows. This would be five different work flows (one each for new business, endorsements, renewals, claims and billing) for 10 different insurance companies, said Earle.

“Every insurance company needs to evolve profitably and I think most brokers support that. However, I think it is also pretty safe to assume that none of their strategic plans, initiatives, or product reviews are involving any kind of specific measurement with respect to the time, resources, and friction that is adding to broker work flows.”

Say for example a new technology adds three minutes to the renewal process. Three minutes may not sound like a lot of time, but it is if you multiply that three minutes by the number of policies brokers need to renew across their entire book of business during a typical week, suggested Earle.

“Brokers need to be part of the plan. [Carriers] need to measure the effects their decisions are going to have. We support the decisions. We need to be involved and let them know, ‘Hey, if you do it this way, maybe it will save us a few steps instead of adding steps.’”

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2 Comments » for How carriers could save brokers from ‘drowning in friction’
  1. Eric+Lapenis says:

    MESSAGE TO RSA: Your Digital Mail system is not what any brokers want. You’ve created an extra step that is unnecessary and creates additional work for brokers. You already download broker document copies using edocs, why did you choose to create a whole new process insured copies?
    First claimspoint and now this? Try working with brokers to find out what is best for everyone before implementation of solutions that only benefit you. Hopefully Intact can fix this mess.

  2. Jamie Ross says:

    We’ve been banging this drum for a while now and it’s good to see the topic finally resonating. Key takeaway: brokers need to be part of the planning.

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