Shawn Graydon (pictured), Insurance Business Canada’s Broker of the Year in 2016, has a new milestone to add to his resume – the former COO of Rempel Insurance Brokers recently became the president and CEO after acquiring the company at the end of August.
Graydon’s take-charge mentality was evident from the start of his insurance career, when he knew nothing about insurance and took one week off from work to study for and take the licensing exam, which he passed, before canvassing up and down a major road in Winnipeg to find a job in the industry. Eventually, he came back to the town of Morris, Manitoba to work for Dale Rempel, a mentorship that he looks back on fondly.
“My career working with Dale Rempel is a huge highlight for me from start to end, from the time I worked with him for 12 years until he passed,” said Graydon, adding that developing long-lasting relationships has been a quality that’s helped him find success as a broker. “I love meeting new people and that’s I think what really brought my career to where it is today – just being able to engage and connect and relate to people.”
Rempel Insurance, a rural brokerage with 80% of its business in commercial lines and 20% in personal lines, has built its foundation on seeing its clients and visiting them in their places of business, giving its insurance services the personal touch, according to Graydon, who doesn’t think the direct-to-consumer model can take the place of those relationships.
“The stats don’t show that it’s profitable, they don’t show the retention,” he said. “Technology is there to help with efficiencies, help you to do business and gives an option to your consumer, but it doesn’t replace the relationship. I see that as being the big issue right now - some think that the replacement of the relationship is allowing the consumer to do it all online themselves with no attachments to a broker or a very limited attachment.”
Rempel Insurance’s clients say that they want the option to do some things online, but they don’t want to lose touch with their broker, added Graydon. Technology does however have another role to play in customers’ businesses, particularly for commercial trucking companies.
“Every industry is going through this digital world and technology, and knowing what is a right fit. When we talk to our fleets, which we have a number of, they are very hesitant,” he told Insurance Business. “Their industry is so inundated with paper beyond belief that they have such a hard time trusting and believing in technology because their industry doesn’t accept it.”
They haven’t yet bridged the gap and really invested in technology that could streamline their industry, such as electronic logging devices (ELD). The ELD Rule is meanwhile already active in the US with no specific date set for its implementation in Canada, where the industry is generally more technology-adverse.
“They want technology, but they have such a big system that they don’t know what is the right technology to focus on,” said Graydon.