Broker Connectivity – A Competitive Edge: Northbridge Insurance

A 2024 ICTA nomination

Toronto, ON (Feb. 2, 2024) – For small commercial business, brokers contact Northbridge in a traditional manner – via email or phone. While our small business market share has grown with this model due to our responsive service, putting service delivery in the hands of our broker partners in a manner that allows them to efficiently work within their own broker management systems is a necessary next step to expand our small business market leadership.

Broker and customer expectations have continued to evolve. The need to deliver an exceptional digital experience through innovative technology will support broker growth, improve broker ease of doing business, and create value for the customer.

Our problem statement was: How do we leverage technology and data to deliver real-time integration with brokers’ systems to provide them with access to transact quotes instantly and efficiently for small business customers and better service our mutual customers?

Between 2018 – 2020, Northbridge had conducted research on the best way to address our problem statement. Our research found:

  • Responsiveness and speed win business;
  • Document accuracy impacts broker effort;
  • Brokers don’t want to use more insurer portals and don’t always trust portals;
  • Brokers want everything done within the Broker Management System (BMS) and want to see more connectivity but would rely on BMS vendors and carriers to build connectivity.

Based on our findings, we committed to using the Centre for Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO) data standards to build a solution in partnership with Applied, a major BMS provider. By building to CSIO data standards, we enable brokers’ choice in how they interact with us digitally going forward. As the technology and insurer landscape changes for brokers, both Applied and Northbridge committed to a set of standards, rather than a custom solution, enabling the creating of an ecosystem that can be expanded upon.

A pilot working group with brokers and Applied was established to obtain feedback, test our assumptions, and ensure our solution delivered value. Our Northbridge project team was committed to our goal of being first-to-market with this solution and pushed hard during 2022 to achieve that goal of launching a pilot in October 2022, with a general release in May 2023.

The CSIO Commercial Lines Working group, which Northbridge participates in, has established the minimum data standards needed to consistently underwrite Business Professional Services, Retail, and Contractor classes of business. By utilizing CSIO data standards for Commercial Lines, we have been able to successfully automate and create a complete digitized submission workflow for brokers when they submit qualifying business. Brokers can work completely within their own BMS, submit a quote request, and receive a real-time automatic quote, in under 60 seconds, 365 days a year.

Both Northbridge and Applied kept a focus on broker experience when we created not only real time quoting capability, but a solution that handles the entire digital submission journey.

On the Northbridge side, we can take in that quote request, validate if we have any policies or active submissions for that customer, determine the underwriting eligibility for it, and rate it based on the data provided by the broker as well as third party data calls. When a quote request is not eligible to be automated through to a full quote, it’s seamlessly transitioned into our existing workflows for our underwriters to pick up, review, and respond. Using our quote prioritization AI tool, digital submissions are prioritized and go to the top of the worklist for underwriters. The submission data is mapped and populated into our underwriting systems and the underwriting team can quickly see the reason it’s been referred to them. In many cases, even a referred submission will be quoted in minutes.

Our Small Business broker value proposition is built on our Fast, Simple, Fair approach. Now, by investing in digital connectivity, we’re improving on that submission journey.
On the Applied side, they built a solution that integrates into Policy Works, which allows brokers to submit their quote request digitally. It also seamlessly converts their digital quote request into a PDF submission that can be emailed to other carriers who are not available on the platform.

For Small Business customers, this allows them to look to their broker for professional guidance, while still receiving multiple competitive quotes and a customer experience that previously could only be rivaled by direct writers.

Business Value

For Northbridge, broker connectivity has allowed us to automatically quote small, non-complex retail, contractor, and business professional service risks, freeing up our underwriters to work on larger and more complex risks. We are automatically resolving 35% of submissions with no manual effort. On average, 25% of digital submissions are automatically quoted. Another 10% of submissions are automatically declined due to class of business, underwriting eligibility, or business rules such as the policy effective date needing to be within the next 90 days.

Brokers report a 30% gain in workflow efficiency using Applied Commercial Lines quotes versus traditional submission workflows. They receive a real time quote response from multiple insurers, which can be an automatic quote, decline, or referral message, providing instant feedback on their submission. One brokerage with high adoption of this workflow has had a 42% increase in submission activity above their run rate, resulting in 39% more bound premium year over year. The broker did this with the same sized team, and when we asked for feedback on our connectivity solution, they said: “Ultra fast, a SIGNIFICANT advantage over other brokers not using it.”

Our priority service for referred submissions has had a meaningful impact to brokers. Referred digital submissions are quoted 70% faster than an emailed submission of similar operations, size, and complexity. Our bind ratio for all digital submissions, whether automatically or manually quoted, is 5% higher than our national averages, proving that quote speed for this size of business is important.

About Northbridge Insurance

Northbridge Insurance is a leading Canadian commercial insurer. Working with our broker partners, we aim to help businesses of all sizes. We use our in-depth industry expertise to help medium and large businesses operate more safely, so they can worry less and focus on opportunities. We also work to provide small businesses with insurance protection that’s responsive, simple, and flexible. For more information, visit

About Applied Systems

Applied Systems is the leading global provider of cloud-based software that powers the business of insurance. Recognized as a pioneer in insurance automation and the innovation leader, Applied is the world’s largest provider of agency and brokerage management systems, serving customers throughout the United States, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, and the United Kingdom. By automating the insurance lifecycle, Applied’s people and products enable millions of people around the world to safeguard and protect what matters most. For more information, please visit

SOURCE: Northbridge Insurance

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