Canadian Underwriter

Tech only one part of value proposition: broker association

December 5, 2017   by Jason Contant, Online Editor

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Technology advancements may seem like a competitive advantage in the broker channel, “but they have the potential to be a neutralizer” as well, the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario cautioned Tuesday.

Some brokers have already dabbled with technology by offering chatbots, paperless solutions and mobile websites, among other items. And real-time data exchange between brokers and carriers is now within reach.

However, “a clear understanding of the broker value proposition is increasingly under pressure as competitors continue joining the insurance space,” said Brett Boadway, IBAO’s director of operations. “Brokers must be able to articulate how they’re superior, and ensure the consumers they’re targeting clearly understand their value proposition.”

It comes back to the customer experience, Boadway said. “If a broker can go toe-to-toe with a competing distribution model, which often involves technology to improve speed and service, then the broker will win every time on choice, advice and advocacy.”

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She offers the following “best practices” brokers can implement to improve their workflow or efficiency.

First, look for paperless solutions, such as adopting eDocs, starting with the Centre for Study of Insurance Operations’ eDocs Savings Calculator. The calculates the daily, monthly and yearly cost and time savings gained by implementing the solution.

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A second paperless option is to adopt eSignatures, using the eSignatures Savings Calculator, a similar tool that estimates the return on investment of adopting an eSignature solution for a brokerage.

Second, brokers should maximize broker management systems (BMS) capabilities. All BMSs offer training sessions on how to best leverage tools to increase brokerage efficiency, Boadway observed.

Third, invest in staff. Boadway suggests professional development opportunities such as IBAO’s Young Brokers Conference. The association’s annual Convention is a good opportunity for both young brokers and seasoned veterans to learn about productivity advancements within the industry, she said.

Fourth, to better manage a brokerage, Boadway recommends to not underestimate the value of networking. “We’re fortunate that brokers showcase a willingness to share best practices for the betterment of the channel,” she said. “Get involved with your local affiliate, attend industry events and build out your professional network.”

Finally, Boadway recommends that brokerages focus on their people and customers.

“Insurance is a business fuelled by skilled people,” she said. “Ensure hiring practices reflect the type of talent you’re looking to attract and provide new staff with appropriate training and resources.” For the customer, she added, “you can’t be all things to all people — know your audience, understand their needs and ace delivery to that specific audience.”