Canadian Underwriter

One brokerage’s take on what it means to be a digital broker

September 2, 2021   by Brooke Smith

Print this page Share

Labour Day is just around the corner — and that means back to school.

But Van Allen Insurance has completed its studies for the time being. All 13 members of the Listowel, Ont.-based brokerage’s team have completed the Digital Broker Designation, offered by the Centre for Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO).

Sarah Van Allen, owner of Van Allen Insurance, completed her designation on May 5. She then reached out to CSIO about using the digital broker logo on the company’s website, and CSIO asked about all her staff becoming certified.

Van Allen then invited her staff to follow suit. “We set a goal to have it done by August 1,” she said. “It’s really well received because there are a variety of courses to choose from.” The brokerage is now the first to have all staff with the designation.

To earn the designation, brokers must complete six one-hour courses (from more than 20 in CSIO’s library). The courses include videos and lectures, with knowledge-testing questions throughout and a final quiz. Participants must attain a mark of 60% per course to pass. The designation’s courses are free of charge for CSIO members — which include all broker members of a provincial broker association.

The designation has three streams: digital marketing (helping brokers to use social media to reach clients), insurance innovation (new trends and tools available in the industry) and cybersecurity (ways to protect your brokerage and data). There are no mandatory courses. “It’s up to brokers what they think they need most for their businesses, and for their own professional development,” said Monica Hanna, manager of industry & business relations at CSIO.

Van Allen said she saw the benefit and value of the designation. “We’re always looking for ways to improve our brokerage, and this is a good place to start on the technology side of things: to see what options are out there, and make sure our cyber side of things is secure.”

While many of the courses are technical in nature (e.g., one covers multi-factor authentication), others focus on digital marketing. “You can learn what consumer expectations are,” Van Allen said. She added that some of the lectures provide a good introduction to the industry and the importance in helping connect data between brokerages and insurers.

Hanna said the courses are meant to fit into a broker’s busy schedule. “We built the courses to be able to accommodate this for the brokers,” she said. Brokers may start, stop and then pick up where they left off, and on any device.

Van Allen said completing the designation over the summer was a bit challenging “because our staff prioritizes customer service first, but we fit it in as we could.”

While brokers need only six courses for the designation, Hanna said many sign up for more. Just over 100 brokers (include Van Allen herself) have taken more than the required six courses, Hanna said.

For Van Allen, staying on top of consumer expectations is key. “I think consumers want to see paperless options and more digital options in our industry,” she said. “Technology’s not going anywhere.”


Feature image by

Print this page Share

1 Comment » for One brokerage’s take on what it means to be a digital broker
  1. Andrew Milligan says:

    How does doing some courses make you “digital”? What does being digital even mean.

Have your say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *