5-Star Brokerages

The leaders of the pack 

A good brokerage is like a fine matchmaker. With countless insurers across Canada offering a complex mix of policies and packages, a business could easily get lost in the details when trying to go it alone. However, a good brokerage has the connections, customer service, product knowledge and working efficiency needed to meet clients’ needs quickly and consistently. 

 

Then there are those factors that are more intangible. “There is no one thing that a brokerage has to do to be amazing,” says Joseph Carnevale, president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO). “It’s all about the little things they do to really stand out. Ultimately, the goal is the attract the clients they want and keep the ones they have.”  

 

That means helping brokerages meet consumer demands, either through regular face-to-face meetings, by embracing cutting-edge technologies to meet virtually or adapting to a hybrid approach that leverages a mix of both.  

 

“I happen to think that the most successful brokerages in Canada are going to be the ones that give their clients and potential clients all the tools they could want to interact with them and then let the clients decide how best to do that and how they want to interact,” Carnevale says.  

 

Meeting market challenges 

It’s certainly not an easy time for brokerages right now – Carnevale says the hard market is a lingering concern.  

 

“Clearly we’ve all been impacted by the lack of availability of certain commercial products or affordable lines,” he says. “That’s been a challenge and one that continues to plague us. I see the light at the end of the tunnel – I think we’re well beyond the halfway point of this hard market. I think some segments are opening up, and some insurers are opening up their markets to quoting quicker and wanting to regrow that business. So I see 2022 being a positive year.” 

 

Basil Crosbie, director of the Insurance Brokers Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (IBAN), agrees that the market is “very, very tight … There’s issues with capacity and willingness to write.”  

 

He says that means brokers need to go the extra mile to retain their customers, something that can be especially difficult in Newfoundland, where fewer insurance companies are operating.  

 

“We’re a little bit different than the rest of the country in that we don’t have as many insurers or players in the market,” Crosbie says. “The commercial side is a few more players but still not near the number of markets that are in the rest of the country. So it puts pressure on the broker for sure.” 

 

Then, of course, there’s the COVID-19 pandemic, which has impeded interaction as people continue to navigate business from their homes instead of offices. Brokerages have also been challenged to keep up with demand for the latest technology solutions.  

 

“We work with insurance companies and tech vendors to find the best way to deliver policy documents, changes, requests for quotes, requests for billing information, renewals, all these things in the most efficient way possible,” Carnevale says. “Because what we really want to do is make sure brokers can deliver the best possible service and the best possible combination of prices and coverages to consumers in the quickest way possible and in the most efficient way possible.”  

 

Working with tech providers to help brokers processes and services is also a top priority at IBAN. Crosbie says education is another major factor in making sure brokers stay ahead of the curve.  

 

“Like much of the country, it’s a big thing to make sure our employees and members are educated and understand what they’re selling and so forth,” he says.  

 

In other words, it’s all about helping brokers improve the insurance-buying process for consumers.  

 

“Often when they’re speaking to an agent or representative, consumers are looking to feel comfortable with the individual and that they know what they’re talking about – that they’re going to get good customer service and they’re going to get a fair shake,” Crosbie says. “I don’t think that price is the only factor, but it definitely does factor into it. I think it boils down to relationship-building – that the broker is on your side, that you’re going to get good customer service, that the broker has good knowledge.” 

 

What clients want 

As part of the survey to determine the 5-Star Brokerages, IBC asked consumers what they felt was most important when dealing with a brokerage. Customer service was the top response – 98% of clients said it’s important, and 94% deemed it ‘very important.’ When asked to elaborate, clients said they enjoyed “the ability to talk to an actual live broker” and getting “prompt feedback to any questions or concerns with coverage.” 

 

It’s clear that customer service is a top priority for Canada’s best brokerages. “We put our clients' needs above everything,” says Avant Insurance, one of this year’s 5-Star Brokerages. “We are more than just a product vendor. The insurance side of things comes after service and taking care of people.” 

 

Product knowledge and comprehensive coverage were also quite important to clients – 97% said those two areas are key when looking for a brokerage to work with. That’s something 5-Star Brokerage Oracle RMS takes to heart: “We leverage our extensive network of insurance providers and our lengthy history in providing insurance products to find the best insurance package for each of our clients,” the brokerage told IBC. “We don’t believe in selling you a one-size-fits-all insurance package. Rather, we work directly with our clients to understand their potential risks and establish a coverage plan for those specific areas.” 

 

Ninety-five per cent of clients deemed speed, pricing and a broker’s understanding of their business important factors when choosing a brokerage. “Modern customers value expert advice; however, they want it to be effortless. We believe in meeting our customers where they are,” says 5-Star Brokerage BrokerLink, adding that it makes “digital solutions available for everyone, regardless of demographic.” 

 

While it didn’t appear on the above list of criteria, trust was by far the most common response when IBC asked clients to name any other factors they consider when selecting a brokerage. Clients said they value brokers who are “caring and knowledgeable” and “genuine and honest.” 

 

Munn Insurance, another 5-Star Brokerage, told IBC it has “earned a reputation for always having your best interests at heart. That’s why we deliver truly exceptional service. We listen, and then we deliver.” 

 

5-Star Brokerages

  • Alteri Insurance
  • Archway Insurance
  • CMB Insurance Brokers
  • Costen Insurance
  • Diamond Insurance Group 
  • Duliban Insurance Brokers
  • FCA Insurance Brokers
  • Ferrari & Associates Insurance & Financial Services
  • Fuse Insurance
  • Hardy-Colborne Insurance Brokers
  • HUB International
  • IDC Insurance Direct Canada
  • KASE Insurance
  • Leibel Insurance Group
  • Louis Meier Insurance Brokers
  • Millennial's Choice
  • Mitchell & Whale Insurance Brokers
  • Munn Insurance
  • My Insurance Broker
  • NFP Canada Corp.
  • Oracle RMS
  • OVC Assurance
  • Premium Insurance Brokers, a division of Oracle RMS
  • SN Insurance Brokers
  • Square One Insurance Services
  • Stanhope Simpson Insurance
  • Surex
  • Wells Insurance Services
  • Western Financial Group
  • Westland Insurance Group
  • Young & Haggis Insurance Services
  • Zahir's My Insurance Guy O/B Oracle RMS
  • Zavano Insurance Services

Methodology

To select Canada’s 5-Star Brokerages for 2021, Insurance Business Canada sourced feedback from insurance brokerages and their clients over a period of 15 weeks. IBC’s research team began by asking brokers and their clients across the country to nominate the brokerages they felt were most deserving of recognition. The team also spoke with leading risk managers in Canada, asking them to name the top brokerages they work with. 
 
The in-depth information gathered enabled the research team to assign weighted values to each area of brokerage service. Winners were also judged based on the strength of their individual nominations. At the end of the research period, the brokerages that received the highest rankings in terms of work quality, specialist expertise and client service were named 5-Star Brokerages.