I’ve done a substantial amount of travel over the last little while that included stops in Silicon Valley and London. Yes the volcano grounded me there but I could think of worse places to be delayed. While meeting with prospective partners and customers it became very clear to me that Canada is in fact leading the charge in many areas of insurance technology. It was also very clear that these countries are envious of our ability to harness technology. We found solutions to problems that they couldn’t even fathom.
- In the UK, there is a lack of, and non-adherence to, technical standards. The CSIO standards, along with products like ours, provide a major foundation from which real time transactions – such as endorsement and new business upload – can occur. It’s all too common to see Brits still slogging through paper. And the systems are very disparate from one another which have allowed the personal lines business to all but disappear for the agent channel.
- South of the border there is a lot of misinformation on what occurs and from what I’ve learned we are much more advanced in Canada. Comparative rating is done, in most cases, by the agent keying individual quotes into insurer web portals. In some cases the rates are provided in real time directly to the rating engines but these are few and far between.
- Also, there is no real time automated endorsement uploads as we’ve had here since 2005 and for that matter new business usually consists of portal intervention.
- Portals are seen as the ultimate solution for once and done but here we are implementing portal-free solutions that simply validate the agent data and request company specific information that allows the agent to work from within their system without having to learn yet another portal.
I said to my wife on our way home that travelling is great for experiencing other cultures and societies and learning more about ourselves by understanding how others view us. The global insurance industry sees Canada as being quite advanced and we should be proud of that. Canadian modesty prevents us from bragging too much but sometimes it’s ok to pat ourselves on the back and appreciate our accomplishments and this is a great accomplishment.
Canada is far from perfect however. We have a long way to go before we’re completely once and done from within our agent systems. But in our case it’s no longer a technological barrier impeding progress but a political barrier. This will only be overcome by: competition, clear focus from groups like Orbit, and above all else agent commitment to the technology available to them today. Waiting for the perfect solution is akin to learning to bike before you crawl.