Canadian Underwriter

Where personal lines brokers say they fare better than commercial brokers

August 24, 2020   by David Gambrill

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When renewing a client’s policy, personal lines brokers rated themselves as more successful in finding the right coverage for the right price than did commercial lines brokers, according to Canadian Underwriter’s latest Trusted Advisor Survey.

In Part 2 of our Trusted Advisor series, we asked Canadian P&C insurance brokers to rate themselves on dimensions related to advice, choice and advocacy.

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When it came to business renewals, personal lines brokers rated themselves above average on “finding the best insurance available at the right price for my client’s budget” (81% score compared to a 72% average), whereas commercial lines brokers rated themselves below average (81% compared to an 85% average).

Conversely, commercial brokers were far more likely than personal lines brokers to give themselves better grades for giving their clients advance a heads-up on rate increases. Commercial brokers rated themselves a 91% on this dimension, versus 67% for personal lines brokers.

For many brokers, knowing a particular client faces a rate increase is almost entirely impossible to know prior to the renewal.

“We don’t control the market,” says David Pettigrew, president and CEO of Harvard and Western Insurance. “We just try to understand it and then help our clients navigate it and find the best solution. When the markets start changing in an unpredictable fashion, it’s difficult to set expectations with our clients. It’s difficult to tell them what’s going to happen when we don’t know with confidence ourselves. That’s an ongoing challenge for brokers.”

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When it comes to advocating for a client throughout the claims process, both personal lines and commercial lines brokers tended to give themselves lower scores. Ninety percent of commercial brokers said they do this (the average was 95%), whereas 87% of personal lines brokers said the same (personal lines average was 89%).

In the comments, several brokers reported a taking a somewhat hands-off approach once the claim process was underway. Said one broker: “I generally do not interfere with claims unless there are problems with the client or the client has problems.”

Still, brokers typically let the client know they were available to help.

“I explain to the client that claims don’t always go smoothly, generally due to miscommunications,” one broker said. “If the client is unhappy with an explanation, or if there are challenges with the adjuster, I tell my client to please call me and I will work to moderate the discussion.”


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