Canadian Underwriter

What is needed as more P&C brokerages move into employee benefits

September 3, 2021   by Jason Contant

employee benefits

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With more and more property and casualty insurance brokerages moving into the employee benefits (EB) space, there is a need to have an integrated technology solution, tech vendor Applied Systems said recently.

“We know our P&C customers are moving further and further into the EB space,” Applied CEO Taylor Rhodes said during the Applied Net media/analyst roundtable late last month. “And yet today, they have one platform for their P&C business and probably some spreadsheets to run their benefits business.

“They’re not integrated,” Rhodes said, adding that “things like calculating commissions and doing accounting and reporting are very torturous when you have two different systems.”

In response, the tech vendor announced during the Applied Net virtual conference that it was increasing its investment into the benefits market, including new functionality into agency management system Applied Epic to manage benefits commissions schedules and service plans. It also added a new capability natively into Applied Epic for Salesforce that helps manage situations with “one system being out of tune with the other” or the need to re-key information, Rhodes said.

“The benefits market is overdue for simple, digital tools that can help brokers better connect their staff, customers and insurer partners to work more productively and profitably,” Applied’s chief product officer Michael Howe said in a press release Aug. 26.

“We believe that investing in benefits is a no-brainer solution. [Our clients] want a single platform to run their whole business,” Rhodes said during the media/analyst roundtable, held via Zoom on Aug. 23. “Many of our traditional P&C agency customers are now becoming composite agencies that also have an employee benefits book of business, and they’re seeking more organic growth.”

Hub International is one of the larger brokerages that has invested heavily in the Canadian employee benefits space in the past few years. And in March 2020, Hub told Canadian Underwriter that it was working with Applied to develop a common tech platform for EB and P&C lines.

More recently, Greg Belton, executive chairman of Hub International Canada, told Canadian Underwriter in August that while expanding its geographic footprint has always been part of Hub’s M&A growth strategy, the brokerage has prioritized acquiring both EB and retirement firms and those that specialize in growing commercial markets.

“In the last three years, we’ve aimed to occupy the same meaningful position in the employee benefits and retirement space as we do in P&C,” Belton said.


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