- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

Canadian Disruptions, Eh?

The theme for the 2017 Insurance-Canada Technology Conference on Feb.28 was “Disruption ⇒ New Realities, New Opportunities.”  I had the privilege of moderating two sessions, which demonstrated that Canadian insurance organizations are embracing the realities and creating opportunities. If you missed it in person, or want to visit it again, you will have the opportunity to share the experience.

A tale of two sectors

Jason Storah is Executive Vice-President, Broker Distribution at Aviva Canada. Carrie Russell is Chief Strategist, Fin+Tech Growth Syndicate, a consultancy which helps Financial Services organizations understand and leverage disruptive technologies.

The common element between the two is a deeply held belief that the customer is driving a revolution in the insurance and financial services industry. And meeting those expectations requires that the customer can use their preferred channel for communications and actions. This is referred to as ‘Omni-Channel’.

These two executives shared their thoughts in a ‘fireside chat’ at the Technology Conference.

Stoking the fire …

We started by talking about the current state of flux in Financial Services. It is clear that the large banks and other financial institutions have a lead in deploying Omni-channel tools. And have a leg up on P&C insurers in addressing customer expectations.

However, Russell noted that as important as these tools are to reach a larger audience, the democratization of information can also commoditize the products, resulting, potentially, in higher churn.

Storah said that some larger brokers and MGAs are deploying technologies, to support multi-insurer services with branded, automated, front-end technologies to appear as a direct writer

These distributors are also working with insurers to develop bespoke products to serve targeted audiences. Russell noted that Wealth Management organizations are also developing tailored investment products.

Looking to the future, both executives see data as the new currency for client engagement. And Russell sees a regulatory requirement turning into a competitive advantage.

In the Wealth area, “Know Your Client” (KYC) can provide critical advantages. KYC has been a mandatory function for some time, driven primarily by regulation. With emerging data analytic tools, these data can provide new opportunities for advisors and clients.

Heavy Equipment Serendipity

I also moderated a panel that shows that, occasionally, serendipity trumps planning.

Dave Kruis is a Director at FairVentures, a Fairfax subsidiary that focuses on investments. Kruis was one of the early insurers to set up a desk at Kitchener’s Communitech Hub.

Kruis’ role is to identify investment opportunities with the start-ups housed at Communitech; which is where he met Kevin Forestell, a landscaper by profession, who was developing a little Big opportunity.

In his landscaper role, Forestell grew frustrated seeing bulldozers, tractors and other heavy equipment sit idle during the winter. His response was to develop a company that would act as clearinghouse allowing the owners of the equipment to rent the machines to other companies who only needed the tools temporarily.

Think about Airbnb for bulldozers. Forestell set up a new company, Dozr, and took the role of CEO.

Kruis ran the numbers and they looked good. Forestell had only one more little thing: Insurance. He knew the hoops that the lessor or lessee would have to go through if they had to handle this on their own.

Enter Alex Callahan, Director at Federated Insurance, also part of the Fairfax Family. After Callahan got the concept, he steered the idea through underwriters and the business came together.

How is it working?

A recent article on Business Wire provides some interesting data: equipment owners can earn between 40-90% of their annual payments for the equipment. On the renter’s side, Dozr costs are “about 40% less than traditional rental rates.”

Forestell sees Dozr as a win all the way around:“By connecting with customers online, sellers and OEMs can increase their profit per machine, and buyers get transparent and competitive pricing.”

And is disrupting itself, too….

For the first time, commissioned a company to film the sessions at the Technology Conference and the Broker Forum. The video will be professionally edited and made available in April. We will be promoting it through our channels.

Take a look at a two-minute sample . You can find more information and ordering details here.

If you would be interested in receiving a personal note with the details, send me email ([email protected]), and I’ll make sure you get it fresh off the press.