Canadian Underwriter

Three things brokers and tech giants have in common

May 31, 2021   by Greg Meckbach

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Just as Amazon does not make the products that it sells, brokerages don’t write coverage. But what you do have in common with Amazon is you provide consumer choice among the products you distribute, an Alberta insurtech CEO suggests.

“When you compare insurance brokers to big tech firms, you realize there are a lot of similarities,” said Sherif Gemayel (pictured), president and CEO of Calgary-based Trufla Technology, in a recent interview.

“The largest tech firms in the world are actually distributors. They’re not manufacturers. So Amazon does not actually build anything. They distribute. Google didn’t build any of the websites. They are a distributor. Airbnb doesn’t own any of the buildings in which they rent rooms. They are a distributor,” said Gemayal, who recently sold all his shares in Sharp Insurance (the brokerage he founded) and acquired a majority ownership of Trufla Technology, which provides technology products for brokers.

Gemayal is predicting a “tipping point” in which technology firms will disrupt the insurance industry.

Canadian Underwriter asked Gemayal whether that tipping point he is anticipating will affect the distribution more than the manufacturing of insurance.

“I don’t. I am actually a very big believer that distribution will win in the long run. I am very bullish on the distribution channel. I actually think there’s going to be more disruption at the carrier level,” said Gemayal.

One similarity between large technology companies and insurance brokers is that they offer choice to the consumer, said Gemayal.

“If you went to Google and typed in a search query and it only got one result, Google would fail. If you went to Amazon to buy a certain product and you only got one type of product, Amazon would fail. If you went to Airbnb and you only got one apartment, Airbnb would fail. You have to be able to offer choice to satisfy the masses, which is what brokerages do.”

Where brokers “tend to lag a little behind” is “distributing en masse, intelligently, using data,” said Gemayal. He added this lag is being solved right now.

“What it really comes down to is who distributes to the customer fastest. It’s not necessarily just about the technology. It’s also about the distribution of the products. If you look at the largest tech companies, the winners are the ones who can get out to the consumer en masse quickly.”

For a brokerage, using data intelligently to distribute insurance includes finding clients that may be in the market for your products.

“It is using the data to enhance your current book of business to improve the retention and improve the customer experience for the client. Insurance is so unique because, at the end of the day, we sell a product that nobody really wants to buy. In a lot of cases, it’s a forced grudge purchase. So getting more intelligent with it likely helps you win in the long run.”

Photo courtesy of Trufla

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