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Monthly Archives: October 2020

As pressure mounts to address rising rates during the pandemic, insurers pledge to help small businesses

A group representing Canadian insurance companies is launching a team to help small businesses find affordable coverage as rates rise because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) said the team will start its work by focusing on helping the hard-hit hospitality sector in Ontario by evaluating the needs of businesses and finding them appropriate coverage.

The move comes after business owners and politicians in Ontario raised concerns over increasing instances of sky-rocketing commercial insurance rates and outright denial of coverage in some cases.

“We have a shared interest in making sure that as many small hospitality businesses as possible in Ontario can find the insurance they need – even in a time of heightened uncertainty and risk,” said Don Forgeron, CEO of IBC, who acknowledged the frustration small business owners are facing.

If you work in the hospitality sector and want to find out more, speak with your broker or agent.

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What brokers want from their carriers during the pandemic

As COVID-19 changes the world, brokers need carriers that will change along with it. For brokers, successful carriers during and beyond the global pandemic will be the ones excelling at the three ‘As’ — accessibility, agility and authority (underwriting).

And while this has always been the case, the crisis situation brought about by the global pandemic has shone a bright light on which carriers are excelling at these underwriting fundamentals, says Garth Pepper, President of Liberty Mutual Canada.


During the onset of the pandemic, the key message that was being prioritized to CEOs of the country’s major insurer carriers was: “We need you to be open for business.” The intention was that they sought confirmation that his markets would be accessible while the country’s economic meltdown buffeted Canada’s commercial clients.


As clients were going through a significant economic shock, they are leaning on their brokers for support. The second message was “You are going to have to figure out how you reflect these reduced exposures, because clients are asking us for it and need it.”

These businesses were calling brokerages throughout the country for relief. They wanted to know what their markets’ game plan was to help commercial clients.

Underwriting Authority

When servicing a client that has unique insurance needs, nothing is more frustrating to a commercial broker than getting an automated message saying the risk can’t be written, citing strict adherence to unyielding underwriting rules or obscure internal guidelines, policies and procedures. Or perhaps a locally-based underwriter can offer a flexible solution, only to have a corporate head office in another country scuttle the deal. For a broker who wants a chance to work through the issue with someone, it’s the worst-case scenario: Underwriters with no authority to be creative problem-solvers.

Brokers and clients are going to have an increased need for companies to provide solutions on a multiple product line basis, and in multiple jurisdictions. That will be more important as well.”

Ultimately, says Shields, echoing Pepper, the pandemic is an opportunity to differentiate between commercial carriers. “I’m hoping that clients and brokers will be able to step back and see who was able to come to the table and respond,” she says.

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