How the ICBC's auto insurance rates are affecting the west coast

Explaining to clients why prices are going up is part of the job for this insurance professional

How the ICBC's auto insurance rates are affecting the west coast


By Alicja Grzadkowska

Ken Swanson (pictured, far left), managing partner at Murrick Insurance in downtown Vancouver, had a lot to say about the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) back in February when the government of BC announced it was making changes to the provincial insurer.

Now he has returned to tell Insurance Business how he got into the industry in the first place, what life is like out west, and how the ICBC situation has affected his work.

Tell us about your career trajectory. How did you end up in the insurance business and the managing partner at Murrick?
I was a young kid and my uncle Gary pulled me aside and said, ‘I think you’d be very good at insurance’ and he was the manager of an insurance agency. So, he got me started studying and what was just a job turned into a 28-year career.

I started road running at dealerships for the first 16 years at Key Insurance, and then me and four other partners bought an agency. [In] 2011, I left that agency and bought half of Murrick Insurance downtown.

What are the challenges of being a managing partner?
You have to be ahead of the rest of your staff because all the weird questions come to me, so the learning curve is steeper. A lot of life’s scenarios aren’t out of a book and many of our clients have different scenarios.
What is the most fulfilling aspect of your work?
I love helping people and solving their problems, and visiting them as well.
When you look back at your career, what would you say are your proudest accomplishments?
I would say building great relationships with my co-workers, and some very long-term clients. I’ve had some for 28 years. I think I went to six funerals last year – it’s part of it. You get to help them with the next step, too, with their family and their kids.
How does Murrick differentiate itself from competitors?
We’re very high communication with customers. We call them pretty much every year for every piece of insurance that they have. We don’t just do mail-outs or emails – we try to follow along with what’s going on with everyone.
As an insurance professional on the west coast, what are the issues affecting that market right now?
There’s huge pressure with ICBC, [with] rates going up and we have a lot of unhappy customers, so trying to explain to them the reasons why insurance is trending to go up and up and up, it takes a lot more time and is a lot more labour intensive than it was even three or four years ago. But, it’s always better if the client understands their insurance.
If you weren’t working in the insurance space, what would you be doing right now?
I’m a [senior boys’] high school basketball coach and I love that, so I’d either be a high school basketball coach or I’d be volunteering with either disaster relief or something like that.



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