Philip Porado
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Ludlow: Aviva changes will help brokers | Canadian Insurance

Ludlow: Aviva changes will help brokers

Data gathering and other functions provided by the online platform will relieve many administrative duties

It’s not called Aviva Direct, and the company’s new marketing strategy is not designed to remove the broker from the customer service equation.

This from Sharon Ludlow, president of Aviva Canada in response to hallway chatter at recent conferences regarding tales the country’s second largest insurer had plans launch a direct channel.

Consumers will have the option of making online purchases through a third-party vender sometime this summer. Then, in 2016, platform provider Guidewire will provide a more fulsome service.

Guidewire “will supply and support both our broker distribution channel and customers who wish to transact with us directly,” Ludlow told Top Broker. “So our approach is not one of choosing the distribution channel for our customer but our approach is to provide a platform upon which customers can make that choice.”

Ludlow notes customers are increasingly transacting online. Indeed, Aviva data indicates 51 percent currently goes through a broker, while 33 percent takes place direct and 16 percent is done through an agent in 2014.

While Ludlow acknowledges some customers will take transactions all the way online, she says that on balance Aviva’s broker partners will benefit from the self-serve mechanism.

She notes the data gathering and other functions provided by the online platform will relieve many administrative duties. (Customers, for example, will be able to make simple information changes or do other things that currently take staff time at brokerages).

The time saved means brokers will be able to find new business, including cross-sell opportunities.

“What I’ve heard from many brokers, is that they embrace this in a way that is quite positive,” says Ludlow. “…So brokers are seeing this as a business opportunity as well because they see Aviva as providing solid support in terms of the technology platform that will be used.”

In addition to P&C, Ludlow says life and health products (along with segregated funds via the Aviva Investors, which does not yet have a retail presence in Canada) would eventually become available to Canadian customers. Timelines are not yet hammered out.

“…Being able to provide more than home and auto over the long term in Canada is clearly important to us and is something that we’ve seen done quite well in other countries,” says Ludlow. “…We’re certainly seeing a lot of interest for those brokers who can embrace the larger product offering than simply home and auto and consider life and health and wealth management products.”

Watch this space, and keep an eye out for our August issue, which will feature more from our conversation with Sharon Ludlow.