- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

Canadian Brokers and Carriers: Technology Connects and Disconnects

Two leading analysts at the 2011 Insurance-Canada Technology Conference produced new, original research showing that Canadian Brokers and Carriers have important common interests with technology.  There are, however, significant disconnects, which may offer opportunities for selected partners.

Kimberly Harris-Ferrante, Vice President and Distinguished Analyst for Gartner spoke on “Insurance Trends in Canada:  Hot Topics and Emerging Issues”.  Based on original survey research, Harris-Ferrante noted that brokers and carriers were interested in  improved operational effectiveness and operational efficiency.  However, when it comes to implementing solutions, insurers where far more likely to be investing in Business Process Management (BPM) systems (57%) than brokers (31%).

Harris-Ferrante also reported that both brokers and carriers were interested in more data and better information.  When it comes to technology, however, there was another disconnect.  The two most important improvements from a broker perspective were improvement in data quality and enabling real time access to data.  The top two priorities for insurers were improved performance metrics and greater visibility into data.

As previewed in a recent post here, Mark Breading, principal at SMA Strategy Meets Action, completed a study in partnership with and sponsored by IBM which focused on “Analytics to Enhance Customer Communications”.   Breading found that carriers are strongly interested in data which will support better analytic capabilities (similar to the Gartner findings).

The data SMA gathered from surveys and focus group sessions indicate that carriers expect the primary benefits of better analytic capabilities with communications to be more up-selling and cross-selling.  Brokers also expect value from increasing insights, but see the primary benefits coming from better customer service and  retention.

The different priorities are not all bad news.  SMA suggests that there is agreement that more and better  data is important, and that there are projects underway in both communities. The differences are in focus and direction within the communities.  According to Breading, insurers will be ahead in developing greater insights into customers and brokers will have the most immediate ability to capitalize on these data.  The key is better and closer cooperation and collaboration between brokers and insures.  According to SMA data, there is a ways to go on this.  Less than 50% of brokers and carriers are willing to share information at a detailed level.

This supports and old adage we like a lot:  “You can’t communicate effectively electronically before you learn to communicate personally.”  The winners may well be the brokers and carriers who get closer together on sharing information which might in the past have been proprietary.

Over the next few weeks, we will feature additional information presented at the conference as well as details on how to obtain more information from presenters.