I’m writing this note during what feels like a rare visit to my office in Toronto. October has been an extremely busy month including broker conferences in Halifax, Regina and most recently, Toronto – not to mention the more typical business travel and broker meetings that fit in-between these conferences somehow.
In fact, during October I made my first visit to Saskatchewan, meaning I’ve now had the privilege of traveling to every province in Canada and meeting insurance brokers in all of them! I’m sure I won’t get any arguments when I say that we all live in a truly amazing country that will rival anywhere in the world! The sheer diversity and beauty of our landscape is second to none!
It’s also interesting to see how the needs of insurance brokers can vary across the country – and conversely, how they are often the same.
Of course, geography has a major influence on the focus of brokers. Regionally, you can always expect to see a focus biased towards oil & gas, manufacturing, the service industry, financial institutions, fishing, farming or natural resources depending on where you are standing in Canada; whilst some industries such as commercial realty, hospitality and professional services are common throughout as is personal lines. Geography also has an impact on the availability of markets – whether due to supply and demand, risk appetite or regulation – where some risk categories have an abundance of market choices in certain provinces and virtually none in others.
All of this can often influence our strategy, as the definition of ‘out of the box’ can vary widely by region and type of risk. What might be considered ‘out of the box’ in one province, might be very much ‘standard’ in others – so we never draw a hard line on where to support the market because it’s always open to interpretation. Our preferred interpretation, therefore, is that of our brokers – who will often tell us what solutions they need to help grow their businesses – standard or non-standard. Broker conferences are a great way to get these insights.
Whilst there are lots of differences across Canada, some things are absolutely the same. These similarities typically relate to how brokers want to engage with their various insurer and MGA partners. Speed, transparency, flexibility and partnership are words that I hear almost universally from our broker partners and can be applied to many of the situations that we deal with every day. We’ve really taken these words to heart in our business, and developed teams, systems and processes in support of them. What I really love about these goals is that there is always opportunity for improvement. However fast we are, we can always be faster. However transparent we are, we can always be clearer, etc. These are the things we strive for in our business every day, and my team and I are driven by this process.
After a month of conferences, I can now spend a few days back in the office catching up on everything else, but as always, it has been an absolute pleasure flying around the country to meet so many of our partners. Our last stop this year is in Montreal for the RCCAQ conference and I look forward to meeting again with many of our Quebec brokers!