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The Organization of Real Time Brokers Implementing Technology

"Sharing information is one of our core values. Our blog provides a means for sharing and discussion within the ORBiT community and the industry at large."


– Wendy Watson

President, ORBiT Canada

Our blog is a place for members of ORBiT and the Canadian broker distribution channel to share ideas, opinions and thought leadership.

Please feel free to comment.

If you would like to post a guest blog, please email us at info@orbitcanada.ca. 

The ORBiT Blog

Top 5 ICTC Sessions for ORBiT Members

By Wendy Watson

Next week’s Insurance-Canada.ca Technology Conference offers a variety of compelling sessions. Several revolve around customer experience. Here are five I think will be of particular interest to ORBiT members:


  1. Innovation Showcase: Startup Pitches
    This “show and tell” session will feature innovative startups in the insurance space, with features ranging from AI for fraud detection to robo-advisors, to on-demand travel insurance. Six separate products will be showcased. 

  2. Tackling The Customer Experience Challenge
    Technology is providing customers more knowledge, options, high quality and rapid service, and self-service. This sets an expectation level for insurance to meet. Examine key factors in customer experience, deliverables, tools and programs, and the question “did I succeed?”

  3. CX: Today's Reality and the Path Ahead for Insurance
    The customer is the center of attention in all industries and insurance certainly has its own set of challenges. In this, learn about operationalizing analytics in order to personalize communications and the reality of omni-channel communications today.

  4. Digital Transformation For Enhanced Customer Experience
    A vision for digital transformation should center on enhancing the customer experience. This presentation will outline a brokerage’s strategic plan and actions taken to-date, as well as provide a glimpse into the future of digital transformation.

    And finally…

  5. Insurance: Is It A People Business?
    On behalf of ORBiT, it’s my pleasure to moderate a panel of Ed Meiering (M2O, May McConville Omni Insurance Brokers), Dario Battista (isure), and Kathryn Curran (Economical Insurance). We will explore the nuanced relationship in insurance between people and technology. 


If you’ll be at the conference we hope you’ll say hi. Still need to register? ORBiT broker members receive a discount by using code ORBT1589.

Insurance: is it a People Business?

Is it a People Business?Although technology is becoming an increasingly integral part of the way insurance providers search for new customers and serve existing ones, insurance is still a people business... or is it?


ORBiT is pleased to be participating in a panel discussion at the Insurance-Canada.ca Technology Conference on Feb 27-28th. Join speakers:


  • Wendy Watson, President, ORBiT Canada
  • Ed Meiering, CEO, May-McConville-Omni

People are obviously essential, from determining a strategy, through developing a plan, to running the day to day business. Although technology tools are capable of assisting with those tasks, the same tasks are becoming increasingly complex at the same time.

This panel will explore this nuanced relationship between insurance people - our people - and technology, addressing such questions as:

  • The pros and cons of setting up a separate digital brokerage vs. transforming an existing one.
  • Is insurance a relationship business? Can it be?
  • What is the difference between customer communications and engagement, and how do we participate?
  • How important is the relationship between insurance distributors and insurer partners?
  • Can technology enhance the culture within an insurance business? And if so, how?
  • Is an insurance provider part of the (local) community? How does culture relate?

ORBiT broker members, use REGISTRATION CODE ORBT1589



The Big Pivot: ORBiT in 2018

by Wendy Watson, President of ORBiT Canada

Relevance. Engagement. These two items were top of mind heading into the ORBiT board meeting in early October. If you’ve spent any time pondering these for your own business, you know they are a considerable task.

Since our inception, ORBiT has strived for process efficiencies. We celebrate some great successes and have experienced a few less-than-stellar outcomes. Regardless, I am proud of the work ORBiT volunteers have done: our members tell us that they’ve learned and they’ve improved their operations. 

But what’s next? The Big Pivot. 

ORBiT remains true to our focus on best practices workflows. The Big Pivot moves us from process efficiencies to client-facing, making know your client a top priority.

A by-product of this will be an understanding of the broker distribution value proposition(s): our members coming together and looking to the next generation of distribution and harnessing what is needed to truly know your customer. And once we have this knowledge, what to do and how to do it! Of course, this will be accomplished by our volunteer members, through learning and collaboration. 

The Big Pivot is your opportunity for shared learning in the brave new world of knowing your customer:
  • where to collect and store the data
  • what data is important and how to interpret it
  • how to use and integrate the data into your other technologies
  • how to leverage data to engage staff

I am excited! This is the right time and the right focus. It’s what our broker members need, what our carriers need and most importantly, what our clients need. 

I see the potential for a win: win: win if all stakeholders get engaged and active in ORBiT’s reimagined mission. I hope to see you on Tuesday, November 21st at our Annual Members’ Meeting to help shape these plans for 2018. Join us and get involved in the learning to arm your organization with what it needs.

Why I am excited about Real Time Day 2017

By Wendy Watson, President of ORBiT Canada

This year will mark our 8th annual Real Time Day and each time we learn more about how to make this a great event for our attendees. We think that this year will definitely be our best ever.


Our theme of Write the Next Chapter is a call to action to embrace the changing environment and seize upon the potential the future holds. This is the driving force behind our sessions.


Personal lines folks will get an update on all the Real Time workflows available in their broker management system (BMS) today and hear about what’s coming tomorrow. This is your opportunity to confirm you’re using all that’s available and to optimize the solutions you have in place.


This year we’re introducing a hands-on experience in sessions where it we feel it will enhance learning. First, there’s Auditing How to for each BMS. Some love this topic; others love to hate it! Regardless how you feel, it is a necessary evil for many reasons including: data integrity, consistent workflows, identifying gaps in coverage, and identifying training needs. We encourage you to bring your own laptop/device to (ideally) access their own data remotely; or you can use the test data that vendors are providing. This should interest team leaders, managers and the front line from brokerages and carriers.


Lots of exciting things are happening to move commercial lines forward! The secret (ssshh!) is a successful implementation, which is what our commercial session is focusing on this year. Implementation sounds easy, but it isn’t. Buying the software is only the beginning. In order to reap benefits from your investment, staff needs to buy in and use it. This is going to be a great discussion.


Customers today want to do business with us in many different ways, so where’s a brokerage to start? We asked Tara O’Doherty back this year to wow us with her top ten self-service strategies (and secrets). Bring something to take notes. We also invited Tara to contribute to a discussion on Building Customer Self-service alongside vendors and brokers. This panel discussion will be moderated by Patrick Vice, Insurance-Canada. Bring your questions and comments.


Digital marketing is another “oh, if I only had time” opportunity. Bring your gadget, this is a hands-on how-to session covering: planning, prep, material, reaching your audience, frequency, and dealing with feedback. If you’re just starting down this path or need a few new thoughts, this would a great offering. Our own Digital Marketing and e-commerce expert is going to lead the session.


Finally, who doesn’t like a great story? We’ve invited a young broker to share his path from starting in a brokerage, to noticing he couldn’t do business the way he and his friends expect, to doing something about it. From music to insurance. Come and listen to Adam Hare’s awesome tale.


Monday, May 15th is about investing in your business. We want to make sure you get the most from your time away from the office, so we are wrapping our day with an opportunity to create an action plan. This final session of the day is called Bringing it all Together. Will the work never end? Oh, that’s right, the day ends with a complimentary cocktail hour. Now that’s how to end the day!


The whole ORBiT team (not just me) is very excited about Real Time Day 2017. We hope you will join us.

Seven Tips to a Better Implementation

Guest post by Susanna Fraser-Kuipers
Director, Client Services at Policy Works Inc.

Investing in software to automate and standardize your commercial processes is a good way to grow your business. However, when staff really use that software, it’s a GREAT way to grow your business! A solid implementation is key between good and great.

Studies show that implementations of large enterprise-wide solutions do not always go well with success rates often around the 40-50% range. Of course, the technical aspects of any software system are important. The implementation, training, and support services provided by your solution partner make-or-break the changes you want to achieve.

Policy Works, we use these seven tips for a better implementation.

1. Communicate why you need to change
It’s no secret that most people don’t like change! Communication is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to improve your implementation success rate. Connecting with your staff during all stages of any new project is your best resource. Use various forms of communication too. Face-to-face honest discussions, regular status meetings, email follow ups and so on. Perhaps your team works together to write your goal (the why and how) on a white board in the office kitchen?

2. Get staff buy-in BEFORE you purchase
If you have kids, have you noticed they’re more likely to eat their lunch after they were involved in making it? The same concept applies in the office. Communicate and include key staff early in your process. Discuss as a team and define what issues need to be addressed. How will a change impact the future of individuals and the company? Achieving staff ‘buy-in’ is different than selling your solution, or getting passive permission to move ahead with change. Ensure your short-listed vendors help you with this step. Ask software vendors the tough questions, ensure they provide an outline or jointly create your own implementation plan. Will your new vendor make a good partner to you and your staff? Employee buy-in to your vision, goals and decision making process massively improves your opportunity for success.

3. Create a team to lead the process
At Policy Works, we insist brokerage principals create a team, and appoint a Champion to guide the process. While utilizing your Policy Works expert, an internal team approach reduces the work load on any one individual to ensure key people are able to move the implementation forward.

Back to the kid’s lunch scenario; once the novelty of ‘making their own lunch’ wears off…a team approach helps keep the process going. For example, a parent providing the right ingredients and a timely reminder makes lunch prep easy, leading to a regular habit.

4. Set realistic goals and time-frame
The best plans are reasonable and achievable! Utilize the advice your vendor provides. As a broker, you may only do a large-scale implementation a few times over a decade – at Policy Works we work with brokers every day through every stage of software on-boarding and beyond. Work together and lean on us to help set realistic goals and timelines. Include bite-sized goals during the process.

5. Keep track: Use analytics to review and reward often
Setting targets is great, but if you don’t keep on track, who really cares? An easy way to keep everyone on target is a brief weekly meeting. Did all the users complete training, did they understand it, do they have more questions? Is your policy count starting to grow as expected? When on-boarding with Policy Works, we share analytics to check on progress early and regularly. Maximizing momentum is important at this stage. Try sneaking in a surprise double-chocolate chip cookie into your kid’s lunch (the lunch they already made), and see if they notice. J

6. Make it mandatory
Successful brokerages do this well, they enforce mandatory usage. You will get push back from some staff on this one, guaranteed. But don’t give in. There’s short-term pain in learning a new system. If you’ve done your due diligence, the workflow and features of the software should keep staff from wanting to go back to the old way. By the way, is your kid still making their lunch…or did you step in and starting doing it again? Do they know it’s their job?

7. Stay involved (make sure everyone knows it!) and think long term
If your position in the brokerage includes using Policy Works, your example sets the tone for the implementation. If you’re not personally a day to day user, stay involved and monitor progress. Sit in on weekly status meetings. Talk to staff about what they love and don’t love about the new software. (Yes, it’s possible to love new features!) Plan ongoing support for the long term. Does your commercial staff know to call Policy Works support and how to use online resources for awesome software support? How will you handle training of new staff and learning advanced features after the initial roll-out is successful?

Long term success is directly correlated to how well you lead and manage the 
implementation and change management process. Understanding this prior to purchasing a system ensures that you put the right focus on the team behind the software. As an added bonus, just maybe, your 6, 16 or 26-year-old kid(s) will be making their own lunch forever too!

We’ll be having some fun discussing this concept, using our experiences and those of various brokers joining us May 15th, 2017. Please come join in with our panel of experts at the ORBiT Real-Time Day 2017 event. Hear what we have to say and let me know if you have questions. I’m looking forward to continuing this conversation!

Real Time Day 2016 recap

By Wendy Watson, President of ORBiT Canada

Real Time Day 2016 has been put to bed and we want to say thanks for spending your day with us. We felt a real buzz in the room; people were engaged. Thanks to those who shared their feedback. You rated our topics, content, strategic insights and speakers as very good to excellent! We are so pleased you found value in the day you invested in your business.

If the number of emails requesting the video is any indication, the most valuable session seems to have been our keynote The Big 10: The Secret Digital Experience Strategies that Convert and Differentiate. People found it insightful, engaging, and very informative with lots of great tips. That is exactly what we were aiming for. I suspect this is one of those videos you will refer to frequently to boost your website’s usability. 


What I really appreciated were the panellists who volunteered their time and openly shared their knowledge and opinions. It isn’t easy to sit at the front of a room, ready to respond to whatever question gets lobbed in your direction. Thanks so much for contributing to our industry in such a personal way.


Our panel moderators are also volunteers. These are individuals who believe passionately in their topics and feel a real sense of responsibility to deliver a great experience to attendees. We very much appreciate their efforts.


As an organization, we’re asking our members to dedicate their time to push the Real Time initiative. I think we can agree that:


  • our industry needs Real Time
  • we believe in the principles of Real Time
  • time is running out for sitting on the fence about Real Time



Folks, it is the responsibility of each of us to work to make Real Time a reality! If you aren’t a member, become one. If you are a member, become active! We have lots of good stuff coming your way. Read it, share it, act on it!




Investing to Improve Efficiencies for Brokers

Guest post by Starr Companies

Insurance brokers and carriers are looking to improve efficiency and reduce costs in the policy administration process. However, according to a survey by Accenture, less than half of P&C insurers believe their current policy systems help differentiate them from the competition.


STARR Insurance Holdings, Inc. (STARR) shares the same philosophy as ORBiT – establishing best practice workflows and educational opportunities for the insurance community.


Brokers need solutions that are easy to implement, fast-to-market, and drive operational agility and scale to support large numbers of users and high transaction volumes – regardless of the complexity of the product or line of business.


Starr has invested in technological projects that support the use of standards and workflows built to work along the same principles that ORBiT has established. STARR continues to invest in processes that help brokers, most recently in the United States, as it was one of 15 U.S. insurance carriers that adopted the eSignature platform through DocuSign.


eSignature allows STARR and its brokers an easier, faster, more convenient way to interact. Client documents can be completed from any internet–connected device. 

Usability a focus of Real Time Day

Today’s customers have very high expectation for their online interactions with companies. The expectations are set by dealings with the most successful (and well-funded) online site like Amazon, Facebook and YouTube. Today’s consumers have a very low tolerance for experiences that do not meet these standards. 

For instance, did you know that for every extra second it takes your webpage to load, about 5% of the visitors leave? Over 50% of visitors will leave most websites without ever going beyond the home page.

How can we delight such a demanding audience? 

Designing for “usability” has become an increasingly important factor; and usability means more than just ease of use. We have to enable customers to do what they want, when they want and in an effective, efficient and enjoyable way. A tall order!

Real Time Day tackles usability in-depth this year. The day opens with a keynote address by customer experience expert Tara O’Doherty. Then we present a panel “Usability is King”, for which we have assembled a team to help us tackle these issues.

Our panelists, who bring their expertise from multiple industries, include:

  • Tara O’Doherty, VP Customer Experience Strategy, Cossette Communications
  • Terry Constantino, Co-founder, Usability Matters
  • Newton Asare II, CEO, Client Desk
  • Adam Mitchell, President, Mitchell & Whale Insurance Brokers

Join us to learn how to build usability into your online customer experience.

John Foreman,

Panel Moderator – Usability is King

On the acquisition of Brovada

Willis Towers Watson’s acquisition of Brovada Technologies last year joined two companies with a common commitment to deliver excellent client service and innovation that drives business performance.

Willis Towers Watson is an integrated advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent and expand the power of capital.

Brovada Technologies develops and supports BrovadaOne, software technology that joins insurer and broker systems, saving time while improving workflow efficiency and accuracy.

The BrovadaOne team now operates within Willis Towers Watson’s Risk Consulting and Software business. This expands the company’s analytical and software solutions with BrovadaOne’s capabilities around portals, market connectivity, data movement and legacy system integrations. The combination makes it possible to offer a broader portfolio of solutions to a wider audience, supporter by the scale, diversity and financial strength of Willis Towers Watson.

Joining the Willis Towers Watson, BrovadaOne team is Michelle Poirier, as the new Head of Sales, Canada. For additional information, please contact michelle.poirier@willistowerswatson.com.

My Expectations as a Panelist on 'Let's Ask a Carrier'

Guest Post by Bryan Bedford, Peel Mutual Insurance

Being a panelist on the Let's Ask a Carrier panel at ORBiT's Real Time Day brings with it a range of expectations. I expect to provide some insight on where we (Peel Mutual Insurance and the broader Ontario Mutual Association) stand on current trends, what risks we see and what opportunities we expect to pursue; I expect to engage in an open and honest dialog with both the fellow panelists as well as members of the audience. 

Last year's Let's Ask a Carrier panel definitely had some interesting back and forth discussion with widely varying viewpoints. This is your panel, and we want it to be driven by participant's questions and thoughts.
The rate of change in our industry is ever increasing and brings with it an endless number of questions and potential solutions. I look forward to hearing the scope of questions that the audience has one year on from our last session, coupled with a little bit of uneasiness in trying to foresee the direction. Bring your curveballs, but feel free to toss a few softball questions as well and we'll swing for the fences!

Being Digital in Commercial Lines

What Does this Mean and How Do We Get There?

by Kevin Campbell, CEO, Policy Works Inc.
(Condensed from Policy Works Blog)

When you see “Being Digital” and “Commercial Lines” in the same sentence, it can make you chuckle! It certainly makes you think. It’s hard to imagine two universes further apart: one moving at light speed; the other seemingly stuck in a black hole. At the same time, it can make one feel invigorated because being digital opens up a world of opportunity.

Finding and serving digital customers is the endgame for any digital enterprise. So how do we in insurance connect with and serve these new digital customers? How does this differ for personal and commercial lines? How does it vary by line of business or size of enterprise? What aspects of commercial lines are suited to the digital world? Which will continue to require a traditional approach? How do you effectively translate the broker’s value proposition of choice, advice, and advocacy into the digital world?

These are important questions, yet in the business of commercial insurance very few of us, if any, understand what being digital means. That is a perilous position to be in because digital has the power to transform industries overnight. In this industry, the spoils are plentiful and will surely attract new and unconventional players. As an industry, we need to take this threat seriously and we need to tap into the digital customer before a “born-digital” company enters our universe and sweeps them away.

So where do we start? We have to look at our industry and see what is missing. We need to listen to our customers to understand what they want, what they are hungry for. That’s a job we need to tackle together. As a group, and with continued communication, we can and will come up with a solution.

To that end, please join me and our panel of experts May 5th at Real Time Day. Hear what they have to say and ask questions. I look forward to seeing you. Let’s get the conversation going!

Panel Participants:


  • Anna McCrindell, Vice President, Underwriting, Gore Mutual Insurance Company
  • Cindy Gravelle, Vice President Commercial Lines, Youngs Insurance Brokers Inc.
  • Sam Natur, CEO & President, Bullfrog Insurance
  • Tom Reid, Executive Director, Customer and Digital, Aviva


Business cheque myths busted

by John Knotek, ClearPay 

Since 1990, cheque volumes have been on a steady decline in Canada, directly offset by an increase in electronic payments (credit and debit cards, EFTs, wires and email money transfers). The insurance industry still issues a high volume of cheques and hence should be mindful of the myths versus facts for cheques today.

"Any cheque fraud is automatically reimbursed"
A quick internet search reveals several high profile court cases between banks and account holders over who holds liability for fraudulent cheques. Whether in or out of court, the points of discussion tend to revolve around Canadian Payment Association rules, the Bills of Exchange Act, and account agreements specific to each institution, together with the actions of account holders. The former two outline rules and timelines for counterfeit, materially altered, and forged endorsements. The latter contains important provisions on customers’ responsibilities and notification periods for suspect transactions. Sounds complicated? The reality is that for cheque fraud, the outcome of who will be at a loss is highly dependent on the facts and circumstances of each case. While it is a rarity for such cases to reach the courts, at a minimum, be prepared to lose a lot of time in working through a cheque fraud situation.  

"Post dated or stale dated cheques can’t be cashed"
Yes and no. Post dated cheques clear everyday simply given the sheer volume of deposits. Can you retrieve funds that have been cashed early? Yes as long as it is before the cheque’s date. Is it a pain?  Yes again. Similarly, cheques that are cashed six months after the cheque’s date are considered stale dated items (except Government of Canada cheques) and can be refused by the bank they are presented to. The reality is stale dated cheques get cashed and that there is no obligation by either bank to reverse a deposited stale dated cheque.  

"Stop payments are guaranteed"
The simple thinking on this is “if you wrote it, you pay it”. Once a cheque is out of your hands there is simply no sure way to prevent it from being cashed (unless you close your account or deplete the funds). While in general the banks and their processing centres have good systems in place to facilitate stop payments, there simply is no guarantee.  

"Cheques are the cheapest way to make a payment"
Not true. When reviewing cheque costs there are two primary considerations: the hard costs (cheque purchase, bank charge, mail) and the soft costs (handling, secure storage, obtaining signatures) all of which add up to industry averages of $8 to $40 cost per cheque. As cheque volumes continue to decline in Canada, the processing centres and printing companies will likely continue to increase prices for cheques due to losing economies of scale. 

With these myths busted and cheaper electronic payments available, is your view of cheques altered (pun intended)? If so, consider electronic payment solutions that are easy to implement, are incorporated into existing workflows and built for the insurance industry.

The likelihood of an effective conversion

by Keal Technologies

Conversion is a term that strikes fright into many brokers considering a broker management system (BMS) change. Migrating to a new system causes a disruption to the workflows of a brokerage. What disruption is acceptable in the pursuit of improvement? Movement of data is a huge undertaking and takes studious planning and expertise. Ensuring your new BMS software partner is up to task is equally important.


Brokers will spend at least 20 years on their chosen system so it’s understandable that few know exactly where to start and what questions to ask when evaluating a conversion partner. Here are our top tips to guarantee a new successful partnership: 

What information gets converted? 

Client details, risk & billing information, conversation history, abeyances/follow ups and documents. Ask your new partner for a document outlining what gets converted. A successful conversion will start you in your new system with your needed data from day one. The alternative is to start fresh in a new BMS and keep a copy of your old software on a search basis. This is not only expensive and inefficient, but opens your brokerage to needless E&O exposures. 

What prep-work/data clean-up is required prior to conversion? 

Conversion is an opportunity to do some data clean up. Your BMS partner should do the heavy lifting on this job. Your role is to validate and advise. If a significant amount of your time is needed during the conversion process, your partner is not doing the heavy lifting.

How will your new partner co-ordinate your conversion?

Communication and an almost military precision are needed. Your implementation and conversion team should have this process down to a science. They should be able to craft and follow a customized project plan detailing what needs to be done and they should stay on task and on time. We know this is a scary undertaking for any broker, and your conversion partner should go on this journey with you every step of the way.

Is your partner experienced at converting from your BMS to theirs? 

This is your livelihood. Unless you’re comfortable being a guinea pig, you shouldn’t trust this project to amateurs. 

References – contact them! 

Get names from your new partner of their most recent conversions from your BMS. Use your network to find brokers that have recently converted. Ask them for their feedback, you won’t regret it. 


Perfection is unrealistic, but excellence is not. With the right tools, processes and partner, you can minimize difficulties and set your team up for success with a new BMS.

Electronic signatures for insurance documents: the opportunity for broker leadership

Guest post by Xenex Enterprises

“Going paperless” has been a common goal for years but by the looks of our desks, we have a long ways to go. One major stumbling block to achieving “paper-less” was the requirement for wet ink signatures. To address this, legal experts have been working diligently with regulators and standards bodies to establish the legality of electronic signatures. We can now adopt electronic signatures with full confidence of their legality.

Here are a few common questions with answers to increase your confidence in electronic signatures and remove any lingering hesitation.

  • What is an electronic signature?
    According to the Uniform Electronic Commerce Act (UECA1999) “electronic signature means electronic information that a person creates or adopts in order to sign a document and that is in, attached to or associated with the document”

  • Are electronic signatures legal?
    In a word, yes! The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Document Act (PIPEDA) describes “secure electronic signatures” with the following 3-i’s requirements:  i) The identity of the signatory must be discernable ii) the signatory must have signed intentionally and iii) the integrity of the document must be preserved during and after the signing process.

  • What’s in it for me the broker and my clients?
    E-signatures offer significant and measureable benefits for both broker and client. Benefits range from basic cost/time savings and convenience to indisputable verifiability and non-repudiation.

  • How do I introduce electronic signatures into my business flow?
    Most e-signature solutions are web based and can be easily implemented to replace the current steps of printing and exchanging hard copies with wet ink signatures. CSIO has a vendor dashboard to get you started.

Adopting electronic signatures now can be a differentiator in an increasingly competitive marketplace. The benefits are immediate and can positively enhance the broker-to-client relationship. Select a robust electronic signature solution and work with the solution vendor to effectively introduce e-signature to your client community.

Bring your questions to ORBiT Real Time Day on May 5th

In the future, will brokers be solely the acquisition arm in the broker distribution channel?

By Wendy Watson, president of ORBiT Canada


In the future, will brokers be solely the acquisition arm in the broker distribution channel?

That's the question ORBiT will be exploring as we moderate the debate Blurring Lines: Who Does What in the Broker Distribution Ecosystem? at the first ever Insurance-Canada.ca Broker Forum in Toronto on March 1st.


Our debaters include: an active and well-informed broker principal, an outside-the-box-thinking carrier representative, and a consumer expert. As a discussion involving opposing views, our debate will be respectful, passionate, diverse, and informed.


Our focus is on the consumer and how their needs and wants are evolving. Our industry needs to respond, but what will our new business model look like? Current and emerging technologies are factors to be considered. Will they simply enable our future or drive it forward? 


Change requires determination. Dramatic change requires innovation, risk-taking, drive, and passion. Innovation requires new ways of collaborating, servicing, marketing, selling and delivering value.


Who has the clearest crystal ball?


Agree or disagree, the objective is to bring more ideas and minds into discussing what is possible in our technology enabled future. Should be fun! We hope to see you there.

Ambition and vision for 2016

At ORBiT we aim to create an environment where utilizing new technology to drive efficiencies can flourish. By working together, we feel this is the year to bear fruit.


What’s in store for 2016? Education, networking, dialog; an ambitious year is planned. Here is a sample:


  • We will launch a video series in partnership with IBAO. The program is designed to trigger Real Time adoption from a variety of perspectives: broker principals on why to make the investment, office administrators on how to optimize their systems, carrier underwriting/billing departments on how to encourage adoption, and front line on how to actually use the workflows today.

  • Our Client Experience working group will continue its mandate to define our customers’ evolving expectations and identify the tools and practices needed to deliver the ideal experience (and the gaps in the way). This working group is a great volunteer opportunity for more future-focused ORBiT members.

  • We will launch a working group examining the barriers to straight-through processing. This was the outcome of lively discussion at our Annual Members’ meeting in November. It’s a great volunteer opportunity for brokerage principals.

  • And of course, our major event of the year will be Real Time Day. Last year was our most successful ever, selling out in advance and receiving great reviews across the board. We featured 2 keynote addresses, 6 panel discussions, and 1 workshop. Stay tuned for our Save-the-Date announcement soon. 



We look forward to seeing you and hearing from you soon. Tell us your struggles and successes. By working together, we can make this year one of substantial progress.


If you haven’t yet joined ORBiT, this is the perfect time.


Are You on the Digital Expressway Wave?

By Doug Grant, Partner, Insurance-Canada.ca

In his books (Future Shock in 1970 and The Third Wave in 1980) from more than a quarter century ago, Alvin Toffler noted the increasing rapidity of change, and the emergence of the information age. We today are surrounded by data and information, and experience change to a degree possibly unimaginable to us who read those books then. Much of it is technology-enabled, and driven. We have moved from a caveat emptor to a consumer-oriented world; we are experiencing the double-edged sword of technology – what is possible vs the “costs” to get there - as we move faster onto the digital expressway.

Based on the 2016 Insurance-Canada.ca Technology Awards program, the insurance industry is making interesting use of technology in most every direction.

Three of the insurance company nominations addressed internal opportunities. BI&I developed a “wearable app” for their workers who do field inspections often in remote places – to identify and report an emergency, with the objective of being able to respond quickly. The IBC – Quebec office transformed a manual process to a digital one with workflow and management functions to update documents destined for their member companies. Promutuel implemented a digital training program for widely spread users of their new core system using new techniques such as gamification, and found dramatic savings.

Telematics UBI continues to make inroads, but more quietly now. Desjardins introduced a new implementation of Ajusto, using a smartphone app rather than a dongle to track driving and related behaviour. A first in North America, this removed a cost element and provides for even better customer engagement.

Trillium Mutual has a new farm and property portal which is providing better service to their brokers. It is integrated with CSIO standards and workflows to the extent possible.

Two insurers selling and servicing through brokers have implemented technology for the end-customer to use. The Guarantee offers a mobile app for their GUARANTEE GOLD customers. It offers a number of functions, some to proactively warn about imminent dangerous weather.

Gore Mutual on the other hand has developed UBiz, an online small business quoting, rating, issue and payment application (once and done). It is offered only through brokers, with a link on their website.

But brokers are right there with the best of them in their uses of technology.


  • Sharp Insurance has continued to develop their customer self-service offerings. Either through a portal or from a mobile app, customers can perform a number of self-service functions. Customer engagement has also been enhanced.  
  • Cornerstone, with the Broker’s Briefcase, is changing the price proposition to one of value by using a structured marketing and sales approach with a stream of new content to provide a better engagement program. 
  • Bullfrog claims to be first out of the gate in Canada with a completely online once-and-done program for small commercial with multiple quotes.
  • And EasyInsure builds a strong partnership with their fleet customers by offering them FleetX, a fleet management tool which is a win-win for both customer and broker. 


Each of these insurance technology programs offers a different value and serves a unique purpose. All are creative. They serve to further the service and marketing objectives of these organizations.

Insurance product innovation has been picking up speed in recent years; we’ve seen telematics UBI, cyber risk, overland flood and much more recently ride-share and drone insurance appear in the Canadian market. All of these are technology driven, or technology-enabled, and are responses to customer’s needs. 

At the Insurance-Canada.ca Technology Conference (insurer focused – Feb 29) and Insurance-Canada.ca Broker Forum (broker focused – Mar 1) you can explore and discuss the opportunities and challenges of today, and tomorrow, with your peers.

It is gratifying to see new and creative uses of technology across the insurance ecosystem as companies undertake or continue along the transformation path to providing digital insurance.

Who knows, the industry may be in danger of losing its “laggard” reputation. Ride the wave!

Burning questions for our annual meeting

by Wendy Watson, President of ORBiT Canada

ORBiT Annual Members' Meeting, Nov 10th, 2015In putting together the agenda for our annual Members' meeting in a couple weeks, I'm delighted by the questions that have come up and will be answered.

Self-Service: What is it exactly that clients want?
One of our panellists shares the experience that drove he and his friends to develop an app that allows claims to be made on the customer's terms. How did their focus on customer experience guide the app's development?
Another panellist will claim some of our focus should be redirected away from our website. Where should that focus go instead?
The third panellist knows how important it is to know thy customer. How has what we need to know about our customer changed for yesterday to today?

Security Breach: It's not if; it's not when; it's will you know
Cyber threats continue to evolve. If we thought "we took care of that", we need to think again. I want to know what threats are out there and how the bad guys capture my data. What data do I need to protect? How can I be sure that I'm protected? And how do I stay protected?

ORBiT Update
Attendees really enjoy the ORBiT updates, what we've done, and what's in the works. We always have a great discussion about what actions to take in the upcoming year. Before you arrive, please ponder this question as we'd love to hear your thoughts: What do you consider to be ORBiT's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?

Those are some of my burning questions. I encourage you to ask questions too! 

We look forward to seeing you,

What's your information worth?

2015 Insurance-Canada.ca Executive Forum

By Doug Grant, Partner, Insurance-Canada.ca

So much is changing so quickly. In many cases technology is a contributing driver but it may also underpin an opportunity. Are you ready?

Access to information has become ubiquitous - what can't you find on the web? But if all information is there for your customers to read, has "information” lost its value? How does that change your value proposition as a broker to customers and prospects?

The volume of information, and the sheer number of communications we deal with present greater opportunity than ever. But the value may lie in a different dimension.


  • presenting only "relevant" information
  • providing it in a "preferred" manner
  • being sensitive to frequency
  • enabling engagement


Eileen Greene, VP at Hub, Bernard McNulty, Head of Claims at Allianz Global Canada and Brenda Rose, Technology Champion, IBAC and Partner, FCA Insurance Brokers all have strong ideas about how the new customer and the tools of communication may change the business. With Patrick Vice, Partner, Insurance-Canada.ca as moderator, this group will discuss how leading insurers, brokers, and non-insurance entities are planning changes to meet demands of this new generation of insurance clients. Hear their insights on the demands, the alternatives, and the consequences of doing something, and doing nothing. Help prepare your business for tomorrow.

General information is readily available; simple products are being commoditized. But other risks are becoming more complex due to increasing litigation and tighter regulation. Some businesses are eschewing the ‘everything to everybody’ approach and specializing. Develop a depth of knowledge, skills and processes. Become the "expert" and the "best in class" in a niche area.

This trend to specialty products is accelerating. With insurance expert Heather Masterson, President & CEO, Totten Insurance Group as moderator, Sean Murphy, President, Lloyd's Canada and Kareem Sandid, Chief Actuarial Officer, Totten Insurance Group will tackle this topic. They will expand on the drivers for growth in this channel, the skills necessary to serve this market, and the organizational and technological support required to underpin this dynamic community. What does it mean to you in 3, or 5 years?

The end-game of specialization could be the "componentization of Insurance". Join thought-leaders Jamie Rodgers, Global Insurance Lead, CGI; Jamie McDougall, VP, Gore Mutual; and Mike Fitzgerald, Senior Analyst for Insurance, Celent. They will discuss - debate - this possible impact of digital that has the potential to fundamentally change insurance product design, contracting, payment, distribution and a host of other aspects of how insurers will ply their trade in the future.

Where is your way forward? What role will you play? Learn more at the 2015 Insurance-Canada.ca Executive Forum - ICEF2015: “Emerging Threats and Opportunities” on Monday August 31 in Toronto.

Received 6hrs of RIBO credits in the Management category.

For details visit the Forum Overview. Take advantage of broker and insurer discounts. Register today. It will be an interesting day.

Real Time Day was 'Best One Yet!!'

By Wendy Watson, President, ORBiT Canada

If the feedback is to be believed, Real Time Day 2015 was a resounding success. In fact, it is reported to be “the best one yet!!”.

The agenda was full with diverse topics and speakers who were engaging and knowledgeable. The sessions balanced strategic insights with practical tips which offered something for everyone. Our moderators were great at thinking outside the “insurance box” which is exactly what our industry needs.

It is no surprise that Brian Bartosh, Principal at Top o’ Michigan Insurance Agency who gave us a peek inside his sales and marketing agency, stole the day. We can always count on Brian to deliver valuable, relevant information in an impactful way. He and his brokerage staff actively implement Real Time and maximize their BMS for marketing, sales tracking, auditing and coaching. Listen to his session to hear how he has empowered his sales team to go for or walk away from an account – all with the use of cards. Innovative, empowering and working!

We split off into strategic and tactical sessions. Strategically, a panel talked about moving into the digital landscape, which is where our industry has to go, however there are a myriad of options with little in the way of a roadmap. Tactically, we dug deeply into Real Time. The discussion from the floor was lively, a little controversial and exactly what this topic needs! The session could’ve gone twice as long, which we will remember next year!

The Internet of Things is playing a larger and larger role in our lives, which has to spill over into insurance, so that is where one panel took us. Smart homes, smart cars, smart buildings, wearable devices… we heard about that and more. Reminds me of The Twilight Zone.

With all that is going on in and around our industry, it can be almost paralyzing for some individuals. That is what led us to a session on Change Management. Change is about telling a story and who doesn’t love a good story. In our excitement to change how we are going to do something; we forget people get attached to how and what they have been doing. Pearls of wisdom were delivered.

Then we focused on the sometimes forgotten, but very important Commercial Lines. We know the direct writers got ahead of us brokers in personal lines and that they are already knocking at the commercial lines door. The purpose of this panel was to get a conversation going about what we need to do now to keep that door from flying wide open. Technology plays a key role, but so does thinking a little bit differently about how we approach this business.

Our eSignatures discussion included call recording, verbal binding and digital signatures; all necessary items to make it easy for clients to do business with us and free up time for client contact. More brokers need to make this happen as was evidenced by the energy in the room during this discussion.

We had some very brave carrier representatives who generously gave their time at the end of the day for some great questions, great conversation, a couple of challenges and a few new ideas. We needed an entire afternoon to really dig into the topics with our carrier panellists. The session is definitely worth taking a listen!

Our agenda was so full that the ORBiT update got squashed to make room. We shared high-level results of an enlightening Carrier Real Time Usage Survey: not all carriers are offering download or eDocs yet; too few brokers are using what is available, and new business upload isn’t on the radar. ORBiT’s Real Time Reboot working group is running with this one. Stay tuned, great news on the horizon!

To put the icing on the cake, as they say, many stayed to continue networking while they enjoyed a glass of wine and a wee bit. What a great industry and great group of people!

IBM Launches Internet of Things Unit

By Halya T. Rudiak, Portfolio Manager, IBM Canada

IBM estimates that 90 percent of all data generated by devices like smartphones, tablets, connected vehicles and appliances is never analyzed or acted upon. In fact, as much as 60 percent of this data begins to lose value within milliseconds of being generated.


To address this challenge, IBM recently announced a groundbreaking global strategic alliance with the Weather Company through WSI, its global B2B division, and a $3 billion investment over the next four years in an Internet of Things (IoT) unit, which will help businesses integrate IoT data -- including weather data -- into business operations for real-time, analytics-based decision-making.


This access to new forms of data and insights will truly transform industries and professions: http://www.ibm.com/big-data/us/en/big-data-and-analytics/ibmandweather.html?lnk=ushpls1.

Weather is responsible for nearly half a trillion dollars in economic impact in the U.S. alone each year. By combing IBM’s cloud computing, industry consulting and analytics expertise with precision weather data and forecasts, IBM and WSI will help entire industries operationalize understanding of the impact of weather on business outcomes and take action systemically to optimize their business. Here are just a few examples of how weather impacts every industry:  

  • Weather drives 90% of the variability in energy demand from day-to-day, and is responsible for 70% of power outages.
  • Weather causes 23% of car accidents and 70% of airline flight delays
  • During a single snowstorm in January in the Northeastern United States, retailers experienced a $35 million decrease in online sales, largely because people were at home and tending to other tasks rather than shopping online.
  • The first 60-degree day of the year leads to increased purchases of tick medication for pets.


WSI collects comprehensive weather data and augments it with proprietary data to generate superior forecasts  – predictions clients in every industry can use to improve decision-making.  Even if you are currently using weather data, this alliance will provide you access to much richer data targeted for your industry so you can begin analyzing weather data along with their other data sources - supply chains, social media, and Internet of Things - to create more valuable insights and act faster.

Emerging Threats and Opportunities

2015 Insurance-Canada.ca Executive Forum
By Doug Grant, Partner, Insurance-Canada.ca

So much is changing so quickly. In many cases technology is a contributing driver but it may also underpin an opportunity. The forum’s theme "Emerging Threats and Opportunities" looks ahead into the 3 to 5 year timeframe and beyond. The speakers will address a number of developments that will have an impact on insurance, just in time for this year's Fall planning season. Are you ready to confirm – or revise – your business plans? 

Insurance-Canada.ca Executive Forum

The insurance industry is ripe for disruption. Whether it's the overly complex products, or inefficient distribution, the industry has lagged behind others in serving customers. Technology is the single biggest enabler in our industry and it must be embraced. Listen to Sharon Ludlow, President, Aviva Canada present the keynote Disruption, Consumers & Technology.

While there are pressures to simplify personal and commercial lines, there are countervailing pressures to address new exposures with highly customized solutions. These specialized risks offer new sources of revenue, but demand new skills, and business and technical connections. Will you participate in The Specialist Channel 2025 as portrayed by Heather Masterson, Totten Group and Sean Murphy, Lloyds Canada?

We are seeing the beginning of an insurance distribution revolution. Leading insurers, brokers, and non-insurance entities are planning changes to meet demands of a new generation of insurance clients. They really are changing the world. Distribution 2025 – a panel discussion with Eileen Greene, HUB, Bernard McNulty, RSA and Brenda Rose, Technology Champion, IBAC; Partner, FCA Insurance – will explore whether we can adapt quickly enough to gain advantage.

The end of auto insurance?
Vehicles, owners and drivers are on the cusp of a radical, technology-driven transformation of form and function. As with Henry Ford's innovation, the outcomes of experiments and pilot projects underway now will define the next era of transportation, insurance, and risk management/financing. Automotive Technology, Transformation and Risk, a panel discussion led by Catherine Kargas MARCON with Kathryn McGarry, MPP and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Transportation, Bob Burrows, G4 Apps Inc. & APMA Connected Vehicle Working Group and Derek Kuhn, BlackBerry will peek into the automotive future. 

The Intelligent Machine, Watson and Insurance
A growing number of technologies may be as fundamental a change as the combustion engine or electricity. They include techniques such as artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, and virtual reality. Mike Fitzgerald, Celent will offer his perspective on how they might help an insurer improve service and profits in The Intelligent Machine.

IBM Watson brought us to our TVs for Jeopardy. Anwar Haneef, IBM Watson brings Watson to insurance as it enables a new era of computing, in which apps and systems interact seamlessly with consumers through natural language, enhancing and scaling human expertise and learning with continuing use and new information. How will cognitive computing help you?

David Crozier, Everest Insurance will join Mike and Anwar on a Cognitive Computing panel to discuss the questions you have about this new era of computing: When should I go there? What would I use if for? What are the issues and challenges? 

For more details visit the Forum Overview. Registration is open. Check broker, insurer and earlybird discounts. It will be an interesting day.

An 11th Century Process Still Dominates in P&C Industry

By John Knotek, Chief Executive Officer, ClearPay


The P&C industry is a complex ecosystem with many moving pieces for brokers and carriers alike. Despite the inherent complexity there has been substantial change and will continue to be more. There is one process however that remains much the same for brokers, one that originated in the 11th century, cheques.


Today the majority of brokers continue to pay carriers by cheque. Brokers are not alone as cheques still remain the dominant form of payment for business to business (B2B) transactions in Canada today. With all the advancements in electronic payments, how can this be?


When contemplating the answer to this question many will relate to personal experiences in which you cannot recall the last time you used a cheque. Many millennials might not have ever written a cheque (perhaps as there is no touch screen feature). The fact is that the overwhelming majority of personal payments today are made by debit, credit, cash and more recently, payment enabled phones. So why is this?


The answer: simplicity and data.


When you went to buy your favourite beverage before the long weekend, the total came up on the register and you paid. You likely didn’t question the amount, compare your list of items with the cashier’s list, or choose to pay less than the register indicated.  It is a simple transaction-you pay and walk out. The primary advancements with this type of transaction have been to speed up the movement of money from one party to another. Simple.


The B2B world it is vastly different. Invoices are sent which payors then review to perhaps find that seven skids of product were invoiced but only six had arrived or there was a discrepancy in timing for services rendered or obvious billing errors. The payor then remits their payment amount, which may differ from the invoice and sends along data that explains any discrepancies.


This is where cheques have the advantage over existing electronic payments which cannot have unlimited data attached. By way of a staple or clip, payors can attach unlimited pages of data, data that suppliers need to receive with the payment to reconcile their receivables. In the P&C industry, given the complexities that exist for payments, there is the ongoing need for brokers to send rich remittance data to carriers in tandem with payments. Hence, it should be no surprise that cheques still dominate in broker to carrier payments.  


Unfortunately, when examined with a critical lens, using cheques is ridiculously time consuming and hence expensive for brokers to use. The time and expense associated with buying and administering cheques, chasing down signing officers when urgent payments are required and shipping all add up. This is time and money that brokers could instead use towards enhancing customer service and new sales. As well, cheques are the easiest form of payment to intercept and alter or counterfeit. Quite simply, you do not want to be exposed to this type of crime.


So brokers take a careful look at your payments process and ask if your methods of paying carriers and sending data are easy, inexpensive and secure. In looking at alternatives, consider how any new process fits into existing work flows and ensures that money and data move together in one step with real time notifications to carriers. From an industry perspective, it is high time the industry moves beyond 11th century technology.

The Impact of the Internet of Things on Insurance

By Patrick Vice, Director - Products & Services, Insurance-Canada.ca

How smart is your home? If it’s smart enough, you should be entitled to a 25% reduction in your home insurance premiums, according to a technology entrepreneur.

This is just a small example of the impact the Internet of Things (IoT) is having on the insurance industry now. Sensors in homes are already being used to evaluate risks and lower premiums.

And this is just the start. In the future, data about all manner of physical risks will be gathered by embedded sensors 24 hours per day, and intelligent machines will monitor the data to ensure remedial action is taken to mitigate damage.

Significantly for insurers and brokers, IoT can extend to a large number of scenarios. The widespread use of IoT could cause changes in marketing, underwriting, pricing, risk management, claims, and reporting.

Our interactive session at Real Time Day will provide an overview of IoT, the current impact on the insurance community, and the prospects for insurers, brokers, and customers as IoT becomes more pervasive and more intelligent.

Three "I"s That Make eSignatures Legal

By Mary-Jane Jarvis, Vice President of Xenex Enterprises Inc.

More business sales faster and happier customers too!

This is a tag line that can be rightfully claimed by businesses adopting electronic signatures into their sales and service work processes. I am referring to the ability of business to share proposals, contracts and agreements with potential or existing clients and facilitate the legal signing and acceptance process to happen on line without any in-person or on-site interaction. This so called paperless signature process has been thoroughly scrutinized by legal and regulatory bodies almost everywhere and when the electronic signature solution meets the defined requirements it’s perfectly legal and enforceable.

The key requirements are referred to as the three “I”s – Identity, Intention and Integrity. First the identity of the signing parties must be discernable and authenticated. Next the signatures must be placed intentionally. And finally the document must not have been altered after the signatures were affixed. Any eSignature solution available today that is worth considering must meet these requirements.

In recent years, technology has been brought to bear on business processes or work flows to improve the productivity of the business and maximize return on investments. While that still needs to be a driving force for business to remain competitive today, it’s time to broaden the focus and address the customer benefit. Fortunately, the electronic signature technology can deliver benefit to both customer and business alike!

Pundits in the information and technology field have declared that we are now in the era of the Customer. Customers lead busy lives. They hate wasting time and the world is becoming increasingly all- digital. So now advances in technology need to be focused on the customer requirements for convenience, ease of use, speed of transactions and excellence in service and support.

Electronic signature solutions can address all of these customer demands. Convenience comes from the ability of the customer to sign documents from anywhere, at any time and on most any device (computer, tablet, and phone). Good eSignature solutions offer easy to follow steps for a customer to access a document, review it, sign it and optionally download it for their records. The process of online viewing, accepting and signing is much faster than even the most proficient paper based process of email, print, scan and email back. Last but not least the speed with which eSignature solutions can execute customer on-boarding, assistance and support will raise the bar for acceptable customer support going forward.

While convenience and speed are key drivers for new customer acquisition and existing customer retention, information security and privacy cannot be ignored or jeopardized. Good electronic signature solutions will provide multiple levels of information security and privacy, suitably matched to the specific situation and documents involved. Audit trail and document validation functionality ensure these critical requirements are met.

Research statistics on actual benefits of electronic signature are now available and will be the subject of future blogs. If you’d like to hear more about actual studies and experience with electronic signatures, drop me a line at mary-jane.jarvis@xenex.ca 


For more information on this topic, attend the panel discussion eSignatures: What, Why, and How at ORBiT Real Time Day on May 26th.

My passion is meeting with members

ORBiT hosts two events during the year for members to come together to share ideas, challenges, and strategies on how to influence progress in our beloved industry.

I get really excited about our springtime Real Time Days; however I am passionate about our upcoming Annual Members’ Meeting. Why? Because this is where our membership lends their voice to drive the evolution of the industry. Yes, I said drive. I head into this event thinking I’m clear on the focus for next year, but inevitably the discussion broadens my perspective and we end up with a better plan.

This year, we’ve added a provocative keynote and an information session on mobile technology poised to influence the Digital Client Experience working group. I encourage all members to come - if only for these two agenda items.

We’ll also share what’s gone on this past year with our working groups, where ORBiT was represented, followed by our mandatory AGM. This is our members’ opportunity to stay up to date on our endeavours.

After we’ve had our minds expanded by the preceding agenda items, it’s your turn.
As a member, setting the ORBiT trajectory for 2015 is your privilege and responsibility. This is where your voice is heard, and this is what makes me passionate about this event.

November 11th is, of course, Remembrance Day and we will be honouring our fallen soldiers at 11:00am.

I hope to see all of our members there, wearing a poppy.

Real Time Days 2014 Recap

Every year I am excited about the agenda we put together for our Real Time Days, and every year I hope the attendees leave feeling they got great value for the time they invested. I am pleased to say that again this year, every person who completed an evaluation form said we met or exceeded their expectations!

Sean Mulcair’s keynote on The Client Experience was a clear favourite. As more and more admin work moves to the broker front line staff, our interactions with customers have become, well, transactional. From a customer viewpoint, this is neither very warm or fuzzy, nor does it build the kind of loyalty brokers want and need.


With ORBiT’s focus on real time workflows that free up time for brokers, it is important that this freed up time be used to deliver a great customer experience. Sean provided examples of places thriving in this regard and demonstrated how the insurance world can adopt this principle. I highly recommend carving out some time to watch our video of his presentation.


Alex Gallacher supported Sean’s view and made the point that in order to deliver a great customer experience, we need to ensure we are delivering a great employee experience. If we don’t have engaged, happy employees, our customers will know.


We presented three fast-paced, informative panels that people enjoyed and found enlightening:


  • eSignatures, which encompasses audio/verbal and digital formats. Our experts talked about the legal and technical aspects of this technology, and our broker panellists talked about how it works, saves time, and enhances the customer experience. What I learned is that there are very few insurance transactions that cannot be done using eSignatures, and the time savings for the broker and customer make it a real no-brainer. The technology isn’t even expensive. Not sure why we haven’t jumped all over this!

  • Telematics, which is all new and quite exciting! The problem is, because brokers don’t yet know enough about it, they aren’t sure of the roles they can play to take advantage of the technology. The panel of subject matter experts did a great job of giving us the basics and opening our minds to all that telematics can or more likely, will be. Mind-blowing, really!

  • Digital Client Experience covered: texting with clients, using Live Chat, offering customer self-service with the Keal Cap or CSR24, and enabling a broker website for interaction, e-marketing and social media. This got a wee bit techie but we really do need to know what is possible if we want to stay ahead in this game.

This year, we combined the vendor/BMS “show & tell” into one session to spawn new ideas from comparing how different systems work. It wasn’t a hit with everyone so we’ll rethink this for next year. If you have any suggestions, send them along.

We do need to see more carrier representation at the sessions. Brokers want their carrier partners to deliver what brokers need and those who gave feedback noticed the carrier absence, which is kind of a compliment to carriers – your involvement is important.

A ton of information was packed into a single day. The feedback is clear that we delivered on our mandate to educate our membership, so thanks for coming to learn!

See you at the annual Face to Face meeting on November 11th. This is your chance to give us your input on the priorities you want ORBiT to address. Watch for the invitation soon.

Be a part of the Real Time solution


The benefits of joining an ORBiT working group


There have been many different attempts over the years by our industry to push forward real-time solutions and I’ve been involved in each one over the years.  I guess I’m just one of those people who get excited about influencing change and maybe you are too!   We used to hope that we could improve the sharing of information between brokers and third parties, now we’re at a point where it’s not a hope, it’s an expectation.


The primary purpose of ORBiT is to create Best Practice Workflows (BPWs) that will advance the rollout of Real Time in the industry, and the way that BPWs are created is through the efforts of Working Groups of dedicated volunteers.


With just a little of your time, you can participate in a Working Group where the ideal workflows are developed.  As a Working Group, we have regular meetings, usually every 3-4 weeks via conference call for one hour. Occasionally we may meet face-to-face, depending on the nature of what is being worked on.  There’s very little homework; a working group member’s main job is to contribute during the meetings to bring their experience and suggestions to help mould the ultimate brokerage workflow.


We would be happy to have you join us!  To learn more, check out the Working Group section of our website .  If you have questions or want to join, reach out to us at  info@orbitcanada.ca.


Beth Sigurdson, Team Leader – EDT Working Group


Brokers Speak Out: ORBiT Presents the Results of their Real Time Priority Survey

charting the top priorities for 2014Carriers often tell us that they don't know what technologies brokers desire in order to make business easier and more efficient. Brokers haven't been able to articulate their needs. So what are brokers' priorities?

For the answer, look no further than the ORBiT Real Time Priority Survey. Of the respondents, 71% are brokers and 82% are ORBiT members. How is that for hearing what brokers need and want?

The survey drilled down into which working groups ORBiT should maintain or create for 2014. ORBiT creates working groups to develop best practice workflows from the broker’s desktop to the carrier's system and back. We target very specific tasks such as: new business quote and bind, payments and policy inquiry.

Our goal is to identify what needs to happen for a broker to be as efficient as possible and deliver the level of service a consumer expects, regardless of the carrier. This is a paradigm shift in how technology has traditionally been delivered to brokers.

We then identified what will be the hot topics in the future and asked which topics our Innovation Working Group should research so we stay ahead of the curve.

Some data surprised us and we suspect it'll surprise you too. On April 23rd we will be holding a webinar to give a sneak peek at the survey results. But that allows us only enough time to skim the surface of the data, for more in-depth analysis attend ORBiT Real Time Days on May 27th to 29th.

Need Real Time Now?


Join our lobby campaign and help us advance the implementation of Real Time workflows 


Brokerage principals, how long since you sat with a front line service or sales person as they complete a new business “estimate” with the customer waiting patiently (?) on the phone; then watched the steps involved when the patient client says “I’d like that policy” with the end result of a “binder” with the policy being issued and downloaded to the BMS a day (or week?) later at perhaps a higher price? 


What did you think of that process? 


Brokerage principals, how long since you sat with a keen commercial lines broker as they completed a new business quote on a small commercial property risk?  Did they write down all the information while on the phone with the prospect, hang up the phone and then enter it into several different portals?  Or did they decide on one carrier and enter the information into just that one portal? Or did they send an email to several underwriters and tell the prospect they’d get back to them in a few days with a price? 


What did you think of that process? 


Brokerage principals, how long since you sat with an accounting clerk as they handled the many emails for either a cheque to send to a carrier for a down payment on new business, or a cheque to replace an NSF, or an urgent  cheque needed today  to stop the cancellation of a policy?  Your receptionist already issued a receipt to that client and let the CSR know the payment was made, who sent another email to whomever to request a cheque.  Oh and don’t forget the receptionist/accounting did the deposit the cheque to be done.  And then the cheque gets printed and signed and put in the courier and so on and so on 


What do you think of that process? 


I am hoping you don’t like a single one!  They are inefficient, ineffective, antiquated and do not deliver value to our customers.  Are you asking yourself “but what can I do about it”? I hope so. 


Are you aware that ORBiT working groups have already developed and vetted Best Practice Workflows to make each of these scenarios as efficient as possible?  Are you aware that not a single carrier has committed to build their technology towards these Best Practice Workflows? 


Join our Real Time Lobby and let your voice be heard 


Thanks to the great minds of a couple of brokerage principals, ORBiT has developed a Real Time Lobby initiative that will make it easy for you tell your carriers and vendors that you want them to move towards Real Time; that you support the Best Practice Workflows and want them to commit to changing their systems so that brokers have one way of doing things for all carriers. 


Carriers have competing priorities.  If brokers don’t tell them what is important and what they need, other priorities will rise to the top.  The Real Time Lobby will tell carriers Real Time is a priority for you and that you need them to respond. 


It’s easy:  If you are an ORBiT member, go to www.orbitcanada .ca and visit the Workflow Lobby Centre in the Members section (your member id and password will be required).  Not currently a member of ORBiT? Send us an email at info@orbitcanada.ca and we will get right back with all the information you need.  


Ask all of your colleagues and peers to do the same.  The squeaky wheel gets the oil.  Brokers, it is time to get squeaky!! 


Wendy Watson

President, ORBiT Canada

Brave New Brokers in The Changing Reality

People ask me why I am so passionate an advocate for ORBiT.  Simple:  ORBiT members, me included, believe there is no “one” right technology solution for our industry, but  there is just one best practice workflow that starts at the broker’s fingertips.  Assuming that is in place, there are many options for technology solutions to accomplish and work to that workflow. 

And, it is this diversity that makes our industry so exciting.  A problem or issue arises, for which there are multiple approaches to resolve it;  hence my passion.

This is the premise of the panel on The Changing Reality that ORBiT is sponsoring at the Insurance-Canada.ca Technology Conference 2014 on March 17-18 at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto.  We know that our industry is at a crossroads; consumers are demanding we do business differently and we simply don’t have experience being light on our feet to adapt or change quickly.  Our businesses and in fact, our industry have traditionally been very slow to evolve.    

Some brokerage principals are acting differently than the masses.  They are learning how to be light on their feet; they are reinventing how to do business; they are learning how to see themselves differently; they are learning what it takes to be a leader in this changing reality.  This is what we are going to share with you at the ICTC2014 .

These are people I consider brave.  They are walking a new path, investing differently in their future, thinking differently about the consumer, and they are prepared to take risks they would not have even considered a few short years ago. 

ORBiT exists to drive efficiencies in our industry to improve customer satisfaction.  The panellists get it and are working to the same end.  What is exciting is that they have each chosen a different way to accomplish their goals.  They got here by thinking outside the box to come up with diverse solutions.

If you want to be inspired to start making changes in how you do business, then you need to attend this panel discussion on March 18th at the ICTC2014. 

Submitted by Wendy Watson  

Blog Title: How you can help make Real Time a Reality

Many of us would say that so much in this world happens too fast, yet I think those of us in the broker community would say that Real Time simply can’t arrive fast enough.

Real Time refers to the ability for a broker to click on a button in their Broker Management System or comparative rater for immediate access to carrier information on that particular client, allowing the client to get the information they need or want, when they want it.

ORBiT believes that the key to achieving Real Time is first developing the Best Practice Workflows around which technology can be built. Our primary deliverables are Best Practice Workflows which advance the pursuit of real time once and done transactions between brokers and carriers.

The development of workflow is accomplished by the volunteers in each Working Group who freely commit their knowledge and time.

Joining one or more Working Groups is one of the most important contributions an ORBiT member can make. In return, you benefit from being part of a passionate team, working to address the key challenges of our industry.

We are currently conducting our 2014 Member Priority Survey to determine what our members believe should be the focus for 2014. The Working Groups we ask you to prioritize are:
  • Digital Client Experience
  • Password Management
  • Electronic Signatures
  • After Hours Service
  • Telematics
In the survey is an area for you to join one or more working groups. Let your voice be heard by completing the survey, then become part of the Real Time solution and join a Working Group.

You can learn more in the Working Group section at www.orbitcanada.ca, or send us an email at info@orbitcanada.ca with your name, email, company name and the name of the Working Group(s) you wish to join.

I hope that you will join us in making Real Time a reality in 2014.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Wendy Watson
President, ORBiT Canada

Fewer Touches, Greater Efficiencies

Is your brokerage taking advantage of eDocs?  If you’re not, you are missing out.

The advantages of implementing eDocs are significant. For those who want broker declaration documents within their BMS systems, the integration saves the time that would have been spent coming to the broker extranet to retrieve the documents. With eDocs, the material is automatically pushed to broker partners, which lowers the number of touches required to get documents into the BMS.

It also alleviates the need to manually file and store paper documents, scan incoming paper into electronic format and shred incoming paper copies.

This increased efficiency gives brokers the option to re-allocate staff time to more important and potentially revenue-generating tasks.

The term, “if you build it, they will come” comes to mind.  Carriers and vendors have created this system to meet broker needs, now it is the broker’s job to implement. 

Click here to read how Economical Insurance is making Keal Technology’s CSIO SML eDocs available to its broker partners.



Technology, customization, zero distance and the broker channel

Check out Catherine kargas' artle titled, "Technology, customization, zero distance and the broker channel". Click here to view the article.

Learn how and why the broker, more than any other player in the insurance industry, is in a potential zero-distance relationship with the customer. Discover why brokers are also the key to building satisfaction and loyalty and to turning the tide on erosion of broker channel market share.

Join Us Nov 12 at ORBiT


By Wendy Watson 


Calling all ORBiT members ... We Need Your Help to Move Our Industry into the Future 


ORBiT thrives through the active involvement of its members and one of the best opportunities for members to contribute is at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Face-to-Face Members Meeting. 


This special once-a-year meeting is an important opportunity for ORBiT members to learn about the exciting new initiatives that are rolling out for 2014 and to play an active role in setting ORBiT’s 2014 priorities.


We are very excited about launching our theme for 2014:  “SCOPE”.  Join the discussion on how brokerages can increase their success by investing in:


Sharing   Collaboration   Openness   People   Education 


There is no cost for ORBiT members to attend.  Non-members are welcome, at a modest cost of $75. Lunch is provided.  


This year’s event is on Tuesday Nov 12 at the Insurance Institute (18 King St E, Toronto).  Registration begins at 9:00.  Register in advance through our online registration form.


This annual event is one of the benefits of being an ORBiT member.  It is also a great way to contribute to the success of our industry.  Visit the News & Events section at www.orbitcanada.ca for more information. 


On a related note, ORBiT Canada is seeking nominations for individuals to serve on ORBiT's Board of Directors for 2014/2015.  This is a great opportunity to gain experience, broaden your knowledge and give back to our industry.  If you are looking for a growth opportunity, or if you know someone who is, we encourage you to consider ORBiT. 


Email your nominations to info@orbitcanada.ca  or click on Call for Nominations at www.orbitcanada.ca


Wendy Watson 

ORBiT Canada President 


New Video - Filling the Digital Client Experience Gap


By John Foreman


We are increasingly living in an online world.  Whether it’s for work, play or education, we are spending an ever larger amount of our time online.  In fact, each of us has become an expert at evaluating an online experience and giving it a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. 


The Internet has been touted as the great equalizer, because it allows small businesses to compete on an equal footing with companies that have far greater resources.  But there is a flip-side to this as well.  The global digital behemoths, such as Facebook, Amazon.com and Google, have set the bar high in terms of what people expect from their online experience.  


Almost everyone uses one or more of these services, and has come to expect the quality of online experience that they provide. If we, as insurance brokers and carriers, don’t provide an online experience that lives up to our customers’ expectations, then we risk losing their business to a competitor that does. 


So how do we create a great online experience for our customers? 


It’s not about technology.  The necessary technology is available to everyone.  Mostly, it is about determining what to do, and then doing it. The challenge for most brokers is that they are not sure what they need to do. 


At ORBiT’s 2013 Education Days, I shared some thoughts on how brokers can use the available tools and techniques to create a better online experience for their customers.  These are based on my experiences consulting to Canadian online businesses and teaching digital marketing at the University of Toronto. 


I invite you to check out the video of this session, titled “Filling the Digital Client Experience gap”, now available on the ORBiT video library.


John Foreman

Interim Executive Director, ORBiT Canada

New Video - Transitioning to Real Time


By Sean Mulcair


At ORBiT’s Education Days 2013, I gave a presentation on “Transitioning to Real Time”, which is now available as a video in the ORBiT video library.  In that presentation, I looked at how brokerages can reduce their operating costs by improving inefficient workflows.


The problem is, how do you know which workflows are inefficient?


Understanding the workflow behind each process is the first step to building more efficient workflows. But analyzing workflows can be challenging without a structured and unbiased guideline.


Inefficient workflows are very costly to an organization. Unlike hard costs like rent, salaries, and utilities, the costs associated with inefficient workflows are intangible and not easily identifiable. However, these inefficient workflows and intangible costs are affecting your bottom line more than you may think.


Here’s why. By improving workflow efficiency by as little as 10% an organization would see a per employee benefit in productivity gain of over 22 days a year. If you take a regular size Brokerage firm, with 10 employees, that’s 220 days of productivity you just added to your organization. That’s the equivalent of a new employee added to your workforce!


From our experience what we hear most when working with Brokers is how they wish they had more time to develop some of their business strategies. By mapping out your current state workflows, you find yourself completing the first critical stage to improving your overall operational processes. This step will allow you to clearly identify areas of waste and guide you to improved efficiencies.


Muda is the Japanese term for wasteful. Lean thinking suggests that in order to create capacity in the workplace we are best off identifying areas of waste and working towards eliminating them from our processes.


I encourage you to check out the recording of my “Transitioning to Real Time” presentation in the ORBiT video library to learn the 5 key steps to successfully rolling out improvements to your workflow processes.



Sean Mulcair

Gradient Solutions


It’s one thing to determine that your brokerage wants the benefits of Real Time, but implementation can be quite another issue.


Check out the latest addition to our video library to gain valuable insights on how to implement Real Time in an incremental, low-risk, high-benefit way.


In this session, recorded at ORBiT's Education Days 2013, ORBiT members share their experiences in implementing initiatives that move them towards a Real-Time e-environment. In addition to providing practical tips, they also identify the benefits that they have received from these initiatives.


See what others have experienced and how they have overcome challenges and achieved success.  We would also love to hear from you, so send us a note or comment on this blog to share your experiences.  


John Foreman

Interim Executive Director

ORBiT Canada


New video added to ORBiT Education Centre: "How to Thrive in Transition"


Earlier this year, ORBiT launched its new website.  One of the exciting features of the new website is the Real Time U Online Education Centre, a facility for sharing materials to help the Canadian broker community achieve the benefits of Real Time.  The Online Education centre is in its infancy, but each month we are adding new resource such as videos, studies, workflows and links to other sites of interest.


The newest addition to our video library are the recordings of the keynote speeches from ORBiT’s Real Time Educations Days event back in May.  In particular, we have just uploaded the presentation by Sean Mulcair of Gradient Solutions entitled:


 “Transitioning for Tomorrow:  How to Thrive in Transition”


In his presentation, Sean looks at how putting the client's needs first brings energy and purpose as brokerages transition to the future.  Sean explains why it's important not to fear transition but to embrace the benefits it brings to your clients, staff and operations.


You can view Sean’s presentation at http://www.orbitcanada.ca/educationdaysvideos.html  


More videos will be added in the weeks ahead.  Next in the queue is a panel discussion on “Moving to an e-Environment”, where representatives of broker, carrier and vendor organizations discuss the process of moving your brokerage successfully into the digital world.


We hope you will check out these videos and the other resources on the Real Time U Online Education Centre and will share the links with your colleagues and associates.


We would also love to hear your feedback.  Feel free to send us an email at info@orbitcanada.ca .  And to keep up with the latest at ORBiT visit our website at  www.orbitcanada.ca  and don’t forget to sign-up to follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.


John Foreman

Interim Executive Director

ORBiT Canada

Now Available - First Videos from Education Days 2013

Thanks again to all who joined us for Education Days 2013.  Based on the positive feedback we have received it was our most successful live education event to date.


In particular, we have received great reviews for our two keynote addresses:

“The Empowered Consumer is Here to Stay” by Bill Morris of Navicom. 

"How to Thrive in Transition" by Sean Mulcair of Gradient Partners.  


Bill’s talk looks at how the modern insurance customer’s expectations continue to evolve rapidly, forcing insurance providers to find ways to keep pace…or risk being left behind by innovative, forward looking, customer centric competitors.


In his presentation, Sean looks at how putting the client's needs first brings energy and purpose as brokerages transition to the future.  Sean explains why it's important not to fear transition but to embrace the benefits it brings to your clients, staff and operations.


If you weren’t able to catch these two great presentations live at Education Days 2013, we have some important news for you.  We have recorded a number of the presentations and we are going to make them available on our website in the weeks ahead, beginning with the keynote addresses.


Bill Morris’s talk “The Empowered Consumer is Here to Stay” is available on our website now.  To see it and to learn more about this year’s event, visit our Education Days webpage.   Sean Mulcair’s presentation on "How to Thrive in Transition" will be available in about 2 week, so keep your eye on our website or your email inbox for news on this next video in our Education Day series.


If you enjoy our videos, we encourage you to send the link to friends and associates who might also get value from them.


Wendy Watson, President, ORBiT Canada

Sharing of ideas at Education Days provides great value for insurance carriers

As a participating member in ORBiT Canada since its founding in 2009, Peel Mutual has discovered that our continued involvement carries many benefits for insurance carriers in particular. Participating with ORBiT provides us with a unified, strong, Broker voice and ensures that we are focusing our development resources on the workflow priorities that are important to our broker partners.


An insurance carrier can be pulled in a myriad of directions in terms of where to spend their IT development dollars. This path is clarified, in part, through direct interaction with industry leaders at ORBiT forums, within the various ORBiT working groups and in particular at the annual ORBiT Education Days. Each of these venues brings together the top minds in the business for discussion and reflection on the state of current and future Carrier-Broker technology. By taking into consideration the needs and desires of our Brokers, coupled with the capabilities of our Vendors prior to starting any development work we can help our business partnerships thrive.


According to Wendy Watson, President of ORBiT Canada, “Sharing information is one of our core values”, and that is very evident when one attends an Education Day. Everybody in attendance, both speaker and attendee is more than willing to express an opinion or share an experience from their own office that directly relates to the implementation and use of Real-Time, once and done transactions. 

There is already great value in attending and being a member and as more industry people join in this value will only increase for those who choose to participate.


Bryan Bedford

Peel Mutual Insurance

Why I am excited about the 2013 Real Time Education Days!


2013 will be the 4th  time we have hosted our annual Education Days and each year we learn more about how to make this a great event for our attendees.  We think that this year will definitely be our best ever. 


Our theme of Brokers in Motion is the driving force for our three (3) streams of education.  Personal lines folks will get an update on all the real time workflows available in their broker management system today.  If you’re just thinking about walking down the real time path, you’ll learn the ropes.  If you’ve already started using real time, this is your opportunity to make sure you’re using all that’s available or how to maximize what you’ve got in place. 


Lots of exciting things are happening to move Commercial lines forward in our electronic world.  You’ll see what two (2) of the vendors have to offer today, plus what they have coming in the future.  If you have a paper commercial office who wants to see how else you could be doing business, book one of these sessions. 


Knowing what is available is only the first step.  There are so many ways to do things and so many options to consider before you decide which way to go.  For that reason, we’ve put together a panel of brokers, carriers, and vendors who will answer questions on what, why and how. What were the benefits, what would you differently today, what’s coming down the pipe, and what do I need to think about?  We’re asking them some questions, and then you get to ask them yours.  Think about what your plans are for the remainder of 2013, and then prepare your questions for our panellists.  I can’t wait to hear what you want to know. 


Managers have their hands full today. What with client expectations, the digital world, websites, social media, changing the “how” in the office, taking in all of the ideas the front line brings forward, deciding priorities, where and how to allocate resources……and the list goes on.  We have three (3) sessions that will give managers information to help them deal with these tough topics in their day to day work life.  Three (3) experts share their knowledge with those who need it in this fast paced world. 


The whole ORBiT team (not just me) is very excited about Education Days 2013.  There is a choice of locations – London (May 28), Toronto (May 29) and Kingston (May 30).  We hope you will join us. 


Wendy Watson


President, ORBiT Canada

Welcome to the ORBiT Canada Blog!

A focal point for sharing in the ORBiT community


With the launch of our new website this month, we are also introducing a new blog.  This is a place where members of the ORBiT community can share insights on Real Time and discuss the issues that will help our industry thrive. 


The new website is an exciting step forward for ORBiT.  It is rich with tools and features to help us achieve ORBiT’s mandate of education and communication around Real Time.   We believe that a blog is a valuable addition to these capabilities.  It also adds another channel for 2-way communication within the insurance community, complimenting ORBiT’s presence on Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.  


ORBiT is about collaboration, so we want our blog to speak with many voices.  We want to have posts from bloggers across the industry, from members and non-members, as well as tapping into industry experts.  We will ask them to share not only their vision, but also their real life experiences and the pot holes we all need to watch out for on the road to Real Time.  


This blog is intended to encourage lots of discussion - we want to hear your voice!  


To break the ice, we ask for your help in choosing a name for our blog (“Musings from ORBiT”?).  Please post your suggestions as comments below, or if you are shy, send them to us in an email at info@orbitcanada.ca .  While you’re at it, be sure to send us your ideas on the topics you would like to see addressed in future blogs. 


We look forward to some great posts!


John Foreman

Interim Executive Director

ORBiT Canada


Education and communication are ORBiT’s mandate.