August 7, 2019 by Greg Meckbach
An online-only brokerage is working on an artificial intelligence tool that would alert staff if a client whose situation has changed could now get a better deal on their insurance.
Magreth, Alta.-based surex.com Ltd. recently developed a prototype of an AI tool for the renewal process for home and auto customers, said Matt Alston, surex.com’s co-founder and chief operating officer, in a recent interview.
“The AI system is going to be able to essentially predict and highlight to our team which customers have a significant chance of saving money and then automatically re-marketing to our system and being able to auto-populate new quotes without having to have a broker do the manual work,” said Alston.
One possible scenario is an auto insurance client whose rating has improved since the time they bought their insurance.
Surex.com – formerly known as Surex Direct – has about 45,000 clients in nine Canadian provinces and territories. Some of its brokers who are licensed to place insurance in Ontario work out of Alberta while others work out of a new technology office that surex.com opened in Cambridge.
“What’s key for us and all brokers is we have to figure out how to become intelligent distribution, not just distribution,” Lance Miller, co-founder and CEO of surex.com, told Canadian Underwriter. “What I mean by that is being able to get the right customers paired with the right markets and knowing where to put people is going to be increasingly important over time and AI can play a great role in being intelligent distributors for carriers.”
Allston and Miller are finalists in the Prairies program in EY Canada’s Entrepreneur Of The Year award program, Ernst & Young announced July 16.
Many insurers who write through brokers are also offering insurance direct to clients, Miller said, citing Intact, Aviva and Economical as examples.
“We have to do a better job of distribution than we have in the past to maintain relevance in the market,” said Miller. “In the past the only way carriers had access was through the brokers. We were the distribution. Now we are only one channel and I think if we want to stay relevant we have to become intelligent distributors for carriers.”
Surex.com is one of Canada’s fastest growing brokerages. It had revenues in 2017 of $9 million, about 100 time greater than the $90,000 recorded in 2012, Alston told Canadian Underwriter earlier.
The winners for the EY Canada’s Entrepreneur Of The Year Prairies program will be announced Oct. 10 in Calgary. EY also identified last month dozens of entrepreneurs who are finalists in the Pacific, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic regions. Other P&C brokers who made the list include Gina McFetridge and Michael Stack, president and CEO respectively of Amherst, N.S.-based Archway Insurance.
Once a winner is selected for each region, one of those winners will be awarded the overall EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Canada title. That winner or team will move on to compete with entrepreneurs from programs across the globe at EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year in June 2020. Entrepreneurs can be nominated to the EY program either by themselves or their peers, an EY spokesperson told Canadian Underwriter.