Gloria Cilliers
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In Insurance We Trust

When it comes to trust, the insurance industry hasn’t always had the fairest of reputations. In fact, according to a 2014 Ernst & Young (EY) survey, insurers are less trusted than banks, supermarkets, car manufacturers and online shopping sites. Only half of Canadian consumers, 56 percent to be exact, trust P&C insurance companies.

The EY Global Consumer Insurance Survey suggests the high turnover and low trust ratings in the Canadian insurance industry could be countered by nurturing better customer relationships.

It’s no wonder, then, that insurance companies are now more focused on an outward-in, customer-centric approach to doing business.

But one has to ask whether this increased focus on customer-centricity is driven by the objective to mainly increase profits and please shareholders, or whether such strategies also consider the responsibility to build trust and confidence in an industry that’s traditionally built on relationships.

As Danielle Boulet, the then chair of the Canadian Council of Insurance Regulators (CCIR), put it in a speech to the LIMRA and LOMA annual conference in May 2012: “…you need the public to have confidence in your industry when your only product is a promise, and your greatest and most essential marketing asset is your reputation for keeping your promises.”

That was almost exactly five years ago. And with our landscape already changed by so many factors, it’s never been more true. In the race towards building better customer experiences, are insurers asking themselves whether they’re keeping their promises throughout the entire customer journey?

How confident can customers be when interacting with new digital insurance technologies, for example? And in leveraging advanced analytics to gain consumer insights, can customers trust their data is secure?

As an industry consumed with keeping up with the pace of change, are we investing just as much into understanding whether our customers think we’re keeping our promises?

Come May 1st, insurers will need to have these answers. Because the CCIR will come knocking, as Terri Goveia writes, asking them to report on their fair treatment practices. And once the results are out, while I’m optimistic that our industry won’t have left their customers behind, it’s going to be interesting to see what’s changed since that EY study three years ago…

Not surprisingly, customer-centricity is top of mind for all three of the new insurance company CEOs we spoke to this month. They recognize the broker is front and center when it comes to strengthening relationships and building confidence and trust among their customers.

Perhaps herein lies another opportunity for brokers to truly demonstrate their value.

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