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Brokers, lead the way

For some, change is scary. But figuring your way around brokering in a world of artificial intelligence or virtual reality is daunting for most. Today, you can order an Uber in less time than it takes to brush your teeth. Your phone can talk to your house to open the garage door when you arrive home, and standing in line to rent a movie is a thing of the past. Tomorrow, you’ll be able to send your kids to school in a driverless car while you wait for a drone-delivered package from Amazon. And, pretty soon, you’ll use a robot to engage with new clients and conduct virtual business meetings.

The future is now.

And while other industries are offering consumers more convenience, more choice and a better experience than ever before, insurance cannot lag behind. Kicking off the year with our Big Tech Issue, Brooke Smith discovers how the industry is readying itself to face a new world of insurance brokering.

Speaking at the Insurance Institute’s 2017 Trends breakfast in January, Philip Cook, CEO of Omega Insurance Holdings, warned, like many others have been doing for a while now, that “our industry is ripe for disruption.” It’s coming at the speed of light, whether we are ready to embrace it, or fear it.

New research from global information technology firm NTT Data on home policyholders in the U.S. reveals that more than half of the 63 per cent of so-called “seekers” (who are willing to change their insurance to get discounts for using smart home technology) would trust a non-traditional provider, like Google or Apple, for insurance coverage.

In the race towards disrupting from within, insurance players are each coming up with their own solution/s to help them stay on top of change. But, is it possible that this ‘silo-approach’ could create a vacuum in the industry, as has happened with the taxi industry and Uber, welcoming disruptors from outside to sweep in and rip the carpet from underneath us all? Terri Goveia finds out.

All this new tech, the certainty of disruptors, a growing direct market: brokers will have a lot of change to navigate through in 2017, and beyond. A good place to start, we keep hearing, is to serve your customers digitally. But, as Michael McKiernan asks, what exactly is a “digital broker,” anyway?

Keeping up with change will not be an easy task, and, as four brokers at the forefront remind us in Martha Porado’s story, personal interaction that goes above and beyond, and expert advice, remain the broker’s forte.

Some would argue that, in a world of limitless choice and disruptive competition, virtual service and new distribution channels, the broker is more relevant than ever. It’s up to you to break through the noise and add value to a customer bombarded with endless information, sometimes complicated technology and perhaps too much choice. It’s a new year. With new possibilities. So, brokers, lead the way…

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Copyright © 2017 Transcontinental Media G.P. This article first appeared in the January/February 2017 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine