Canadian Underwriter

Traditional business model needs to change, Ontario brokers told

October 23, 2014   by Angela Stelmakowich, Editor

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OTTAWA – Ontario brokers should understand that the competitors they have today could be different than those they have five years from now – one reason the traditional business model will need to change, Chris Floyd, president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO), said in a speech Wednesday.

“Our competitors are ramping up their game and we need to move quicker and remain extremely nimble,” Floyd told attendees of IBAO’s 94th Annual Convention, being held in Ottawa this week.

“Who we think are competitors today will absolutely be different tomorrow,” perhaps even competitors that have not even yet entered the business, he said. Noting that IKEA is now offering insurance products in Europe, Floyd advised that brokers must understand similar things could unfold in North America.

“Those sorts of statements aren’t meant to be doom and gloom. It really is meant to make us realize that our traditional business model will need to change as an industry,” he emphasized.

Floyd noted that customers today do not necessarily care where they buy insurance products and services – be that from a broker, a direct writer or a bank. “But what they do care about is that it’s convenient for them, that we listen and that we appreciate their loyalty,” he told attendees.

“Are we doing the simple things that the competition is doing? Are we providing online quoting, online chat, extended hours of operation?” Floyd asked.

“We need to simplify things and be there for our customers when they need us, providing them with the relevant products and services they want. Because if we don’t, somebody will,” Floyd cautioned.

Guy Parent, general manager of Le Regroupement des cabinets de courtage d’assurances du Québec (RCCAQ), noted in his regional update that in his home province, direct insurers and brokers have close to equal parts of the market.

Parent recommended that Ontario brokers be prepared to reinvent themselves to answer challenges, particularly if new competitors are good, fast and aggressive. “It’s important for us to say that because we’ve been living it. We have to make sure that our brokers are doing things totally different,” he said.

Brokers may simply want to sell insurance, Floyd said in his speech. Although a simple statement, the goal is complicated when brokers “need to interact with our broker management systems, our rating service, company portals, home evaluation tools and an antiquated delivery mechanism for policy documents and pink slips,” he argued.

“We have traditional means of delivering our services that need to change. If we are going to differentiate ourselves, we’re going to need simplify our business.”

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