From traditional brokerage to digital retailer

From traditional brokerage to digital retailer | Insurance Business

From traditional brokerage to digital retailer
“Being in the digital world is really not for the faint hearted,” according to Dario Battista, president & CEO of iSure insurance brokers.

Ten years ago, Battista was a producer-owner at Belpac Capri, which he describes as a “traditional brokerage,” before buying the infrastructure and turning into what is now iSure in 2006.

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The transformation, according to Battista, was from traditional brokerage to digital insurance retailer.

“We really don’t see ourselves as competing directly with brokers. We look at directs and say – what do we need to do to compete with these guys?” he told an audience of brokers at last week’s annual IBAO conference in Toronto.

Presently, iSure partners with over 25 insurers and the iSure brand now generates 85% of all monthly new business for the company – which means no buying of leads – with the remaining 15% coming through referral, cross-sell and up-sell, Battista explained.

So how did he overhaul the company to its digital incarnation?

Battista looked at the bigger picture of the industry; analysing the broker channel versus the direct channel and thinking about insurance from the client perspective.

“In the digital broker world, what they need to be really good at is taking leads and converting them,” he said.
He began devising a strategy which included “rethinking our entire insurance platform”.

Alongside the core pillars of sales and service, questions such as how the brokerage relates to its customers, and how it adds value to its insurers, were central, and Battista also wanted the brokerage to run its own marketing, in line with the increasingly digital landscape.

“It was important for me to build marketing as one of our key competencies,” he said. “We needed to understand how to market in insurance. It’s not about just buying adverts, believe me, there’s a lot more to it,” he said.

Over time, the company implemented a call centre, went paperless, began recording telephone calls and adopted e-docs and e-signatures as well as building a responsive website.

“Analytics have been a big thing for us – we’ve been tracking everything from day one. We need to know whats going on, and understand it.”

But Battista stressed that the technology that iSure adopted was necessary “to be able to fulfil our strategies” – and weren’t gimmicks.

“A lot of brokers get frustrated because they look to tech to solve their problems,” he said, warning that brokerages shouldn’t rush to adopt technology for its own sake.

His advice to other brokerages trying to adapt to the digital world?

“This isn’t about saying that you have to become a digital retailer, this is about understanding your own organisation, and where you see it moving forwards,” he said, adding that brokers need to understand their own uniqueness and take a bottom-up approach to change.

“The biggest threat to us in my mind is our insurers losing faith in our distribution. Companies are trying to figure out how they distribute in this new world – and it’s not exclusive to insurance, you can find this in every industry.”

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