Opportunity Knocks: Commercial Players Respond to CI Survey Findings

Canada’s commercial insurance sector has some big opportunities to re-connect with clients and heighten understanding of its products, according to the results of a Canadian Insurance magazine survey of commercial P&C policyholders—and industry players are ready to act.

Risk managers, insurance executives, small business representatives and brokers responded to the survey findings in a Toronto boardroom September 2, discussing ways to put policyholders and the industry on the same page.  Among the findings, the survey results reveal room for better communication between commercial brokers and policyholders, as well as an opportunity to further educate buyers about the ins and outs of their policies and on pricing.

“Business clients need a broker more than ever,” said Doug Bruce, director of research for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), noting that there’s a role for different members of the industry to ramp up information sharing.

The ongoing economic downturn has only stressed the need for renewed spotlight on the broker-client relationship, the participants agreed.

“There can be an over-focusing on price, and that’s not necessarily in the client’s best interest,” said Justin MacGregor, president-elect of the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada (IBAC). “Brokers need to create a different foundation, so the client has confidence in the quality of the product and services offered and price disappears off the buying table. The focus on pricing forces the industry into a commodity style marketplace.”

The research, conducted by Roger’s Business and Publishing Research Group and sponsored by Gore Mutual, also highlighted opportunities for brokers to partner with other associations and organizations to promote understanding of commercial insurance, said Paul Taylor, director of operations at the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO). He also noted that the current understanding of the product and the role a broker plays could be improved when the industry shifts from “damage control to customer relations.”

But the results also underscore work to be done among policyholders, especially when it comes to what they’re looking for when they buy insurance.

The survey—conducted between June and August 2009—questioned commercial P&C policyholders on various aspects of their insurance needs and expectations. The full results—and more discussion from the September 2 roundtable—will appear in the November 2009 issue of Canadian Insurance magazine.



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