Why carriers need to match the pace of brokers

Brokers have become more efficient, COO says, and carriers have to keep up

Why carriers need to match the pace of brokers

Insurance News

By Lyle Adriano

Whether it is through direct mail, peer-to-peer, or even via digital apps, there are multiple channels of distribution possible for insurance products. Technology has made insurance a lot more accessible for consumers, and the internet even allows individuals to compare and shop around for the best possible rates.

But when it comes to expert guidance and service, it can be difficult to top the broker channel, which has remained strong even in the face of COVID-19.

A report by PwC broke down why brokers remain a powerful distribution channel – because they learned to quickly adapt to an unprecedented health and economic crisis. COVID-19 may have limited some prospecting activity, but it only made brokers make their relationships with carriers stricter, requiring carriers to be more aggressive with pricing and willing to change their commission structures, among other things.

It then falls upon carriers to be able to match the pace of brokers, and that is what Gore Mutual affirmed its commitment to doing when it renewed its partnership with the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada’s (IBAC) national advertising campaign, the Broker Identity Program (BIP).

Insurance Business Canada sat down with Paul Jackson, COO at Gore Mutual, to learn how the carrier works with brokers, and how it plans to further support the channel.

What are some of the key reasons why you choose to work with brokers?

Brokers continue to dominate distribution in Canada and although new models are emerging, I don’t see that changing soon. Over recent years, brokers have strengthened their position by consolidating, which has created real scale benefits like access to customers, efficient and lower cost operations, and greater reach. As we transform into a national insurer, we think brokers are the key to our growth ambitions and we’re investing heavily in that channel.

How have brokers enhanced your distribution strategy?

Increasingly, brokers are investing in their own efficient systems and models to allow them to be faster and more responsive to their customers. That’s really driven us to match their pace. Over the last few years, we've invested in modern, scalable technology so that we can provide that type of fast, competitive service that customers expect. We think with the right investments, brokers can actually outperform alternative forms of distribution, which is good for them, good for us, and most importantly good for the customer.

What sets a great broking proposition apart from your perspective?

For me, it’s a combination of two things. Brokers have to offer solid, experience-based advice and give customers the confidence that they understand the products and coverages in the market. But at the same time, that has got to be coupled with speed, competitiveness and ease of doing business. So, it can't be a cumbersome, slow, or seemingly expensive process. In the eyes of the customer, the broker should be able to compete with whatever they might see on the internet and combine it with the peace of mind that comes with advice.

Why did you choose to get involved in IBAC's BIP campaign?

We've been supporting the Broker Identity Program for years and that reflects the long-standing strong relationships we have with brokers across the country. Even though some brokers have consolidated or perhaps have changed their names or strategies, many of the same people are still out there in the industry, working hard for their customers. Working with IBAC and its Broker Identity Program spreads the great story brokers must keep telling, both to policymakers and customers.

How is your company working to spread the word about the importance of brokers in insurance?

Everything we do from a purpose and brand standpoint flows back to our broker partners. This year, Gore Mutual welcomed Gaby Polanco-Sorto as our head of purpose and sustainability, and she’s been working closely with several large regional and national brokers to enhance our DEI strategies together. We’ve recently launched our enhanced grant matching program, Brokers for Good, helping brokers to better support organizations within their communities. You will see this come through our social channels, marketing activities and events.

What is your company doing to support the brokers it works with?

First and foremost, brokers need to compete, and they need carriers that can support that. For us, it’s about offering competitive products, pricing, and service and we’re investing heavily in all of these as we expand our offering to support brokers.

For example, in personal lines, over 90% of new business transactions are now handled without an underwriter, and for the other 10%, our teams answer broker calls in typically 60-seconds or less. Another example is IRCA, where our pricing is competitive, and we guarantee quotes back in under 2 hours. Our seasonal property product offers year-round short term rental coverage, which is a really competitive feature.

I also think that supporting brokers means supporting their customers too, particularly when it comes to weather-related CAT events. Our scale means that we’re agile in responding to these, creating great customer experiences. For example, in May we were the first insurer on the ground after the Ontario Derecho, proactively knocking on doors to offer our customers assistance, often before they even knew the severity of the damage.

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