The 2021 executive and board of directors for the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO) have taken their seats and are ready to lead for the coming term. For one of the territory leaders, her appointment on the board is the next feather in her cap of accomplishments – and she doesn’t take the position lightly.
“I’ve just begun my tenure on the IBAO board, but already I’ve gained so much more of an understanding of the role the IBAO plays in the success of brokerages in Ontario and across Canada,” said Shara Bierman (pictured), manager of personal lines at Donovan Insurance Brokers and now the Territory 7 Director for the board. “The IBAO is involved in so many intricate and challenging initiatives to support brokers and to further their impact for their customers. I confidently feel a customer’s best choice is through an educated insurance broker, so when the opportunity arose for me to sit on the board of directors, it was a natural and very easy ‘yes.’”
Bierman started in the world of insurance back in 2000, when she got a job as a receptionist at a brokerage. At that point in time, she says, she didn’t even know what a pink card was, but she quickly realized that she liked working in the industry. Bierman also found a mentor early on that encouraged her to pursue an insurance education, which set her on the path to get her CAIB designation and then the CIP, followed by the FCIP. The learning hasn’t stopped yet – Bierman is currently working on her CRM.
In the meantime, Bierman worked her way up the ranks of her first broking workplace, and later moved from Alberta to Ontario. In that province, her insurance career really took off.
“In Ontario, I had the opportunity to work towards setting up a new brokerage. It was a fun opportunity with many challenges,” explained Bierman. “I was eager to get connected to other brokers in Ontario, and so I began attending the Insurance Brokers Association of Waterloo Region events, and soon joined the board of directors. Through my connections on that board, I heard of an opening at Donovan Insurance a few years later, and quickly realized [I would be] a good fit with that organization, so I made the decision to join Donovan.”
Bierman’s broking journey is studded with various accomplishments and recognitions. Upon completion of the FCIP in 2018, she won the Centennial award for top student in Ontario, the Insurance Bureau of Canada Award for the runner-up top student in the management program, as well as an award for being the top student in the Conestoga Chapter. She also participated in the rewrite of one of the Insurance Institute of Canada’s CIP course textbooks last year.
“I feel so strongly about being educated so it was such a rewarding opportunity for me to be able to play a different kind of role in advancing education for students today,” said Bierman. Not to mention that she finds insurance fascinating and believes that “the more you know, the more you know you don’t know.”
Having an arsenal of insurance knowledge is critical because every day as a broker is filled with new situations and clients. That knowledge is in turn useful since it helps build trust with customers and assures them that they’ve made the right choice in working with a particular broker, explained Bierman.
Building that trust is important in today’s insurance marketplace as customers are facing new challenges, due in part to the pandemic. While commercial insureds have their own unique set of hurdles to overcome, personal insureds are also seeing key changes in the insurance marketplace.
“We are seeing an increase in the number of customers who are wanting to use their vehicles to participate with food delivery platforms that are not currently supported by Ontario insurers,” highlighted Bierman. “I am eager to see insurance evolve to provide a market for these individuals.”
Speaking of evolutions in insurance, the broker also noted that several insurers are introducing usage-based insurance (UBI) solutions in 2021, which will have its own impact on personal lines.
“This is an opportunity to allow customers who feel that they are great drivers to benefit from being able to control a significant portion of their own insurance rate,” explained Bierman. “Usage-based insurance also encourages better driving habits, which should lead to reduced claims costs, so UBI really is a benefit to all. I’m excited to see how the uptake in insurers offering this option to customers changes the insurance landscape.”