TRISURA’S ONLINE PORTAL HELPS INTEGRO INSURANCE BROKERS GAIN GREATER EFFICIENCY AND VISIBILITY

TRISURA’S ONLINE PORTAL HELPS INTEGRO INSURANCE BROKERS GAIN GREATER EFFICIENCY AND VISIBILITY

THE CHALLENGE:

In 2012, Integro Insurance Brokers was appointed as the Broker of Record for a sophisticated client with a large-scale professional liability insurance program. The Association was national in scope with over 4,000 members, each of whom was mandated to purchase their own individual professional liability insurance coverage through Integro. Before working with Integro and Trisura, the insurance program was brokered manually with each member receiving a mailed letter advising them of their premium and requiring them to send their payment to the broker by a set date or risk cancellation. The member mailing list was taken from a spreadsheet comprised of data that was potentially outdated and therefore inaccurate. Premium collection via mailed in cheques took many months. Perhaps more critical was that a member’s premium had to be pre-set before mailing the renewal letters and could not be adjusted at the time the member received their renewal notice. That meant potential changes in their risk profile could not be accounted for at that time.

In addition, the one-size-fits-all direct mail process prevented Integro from being able to gather important membership data and to provide a level of personal and direct service that Integro considers to be a vital part of its overall brokerage offering.

THE SOLUTION:

Integro took the Association’s insurance program to tender and Trisura was the successful insurer that won the business. During the tender process, Integro and the Association were particularly impressed with Trisura’s innovative proposal to simplify and automate the entire buying process through an online portal. The portal was customized to meet the specific needs of the Association’s members, and was branded under the combined names of Integro, the Association, and Trisura.

With the online portal, Integro is able to customize questions for individual members, and then quickly populate the results into a database. The database offers detailed insight into member preferences and payment methods which allows the Association to better service its membership.

The portal offers the ability to process payments online, dramatically speeding up premium collection and preventing accounts receivable errors. Now, annual premiums due in January can be completely collected within 30 days; whereas with the previous process, this often extended into May and beyond.

Trisura provides Integro with all of the support they need to run the portal, ensuring that it stays available, especially during periods of peak demand. Trisura’s hands-on approach allows Integro and Trisura to share the workload equally and present themselves to the Association and its membership as a complete and seamless insurance team. While the previous process required a large and dedicated staff to manage several parts of the insurance renewal (i.e. mailout, premium collection, accounts receivable and constant follow-up), the entire Trisura portal can be managed by as few as two or three people.

By working with Trisura, Integro has a complete and streamlined way to offer liability insurance to the Association’s members, therefore meeting the needs of a client with a sophisticated and large-scale insurance program, while also collecting valuable membership data in order to improve the overall insurance program in the future.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING:

 “The Trisura Insurance Portal is the best we have seen in the marketplace when it comes to offering a customized and client-centric insurance solution for specialty lines placement. Our client has been thrilled at the efficiency of the entire portal system especially with premium collection and the ability to gather and report on key membership data at the touch of a button. We enjoy a strong and sincere relationship with our client and we believe that Trisura has been instrumental in making that happen.”

– Patrick Bourk

Senior Vice President, Integro Insurance Brokers

CUSTOMER PROFILE:

Integro Insurance Brokers is a full service, independent insurance firm providing dedicated brokerage and risk management services to commercial clients on a global basis.

THE CHANGING FACE OF CANADA (BY MIKE GEORGE)

THE CHANGING FACE OF CANADA (BY MIKE GEORGE)


“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

– John F. Kennedy

Canada continues to evolve and change from a demographic perspective and these forces will shape our economy, business world and yes, even the insurance industry, in the years to come. As Kennedy observed, those who consider these changes and govern their decisions accordingly, stand the best chance of future success.

Canada is growing rapidly compared to most of the developed world. In 1985 there were approximately 25 million Canadians, while today we number over 35 million. By 2050 there will be at least 41 million of us, and probably more.

This population growth comes despite the fact that we only average about 385,000 births a year, or roughly 1.61 children per woman of child bearing age. In order for a population to be sustained that number needs to be closer to 2.1.

However, Canada has the largest net positive migration rate in the G8. Over 200,000 people, or 5.66 per thousand inhabitants, move to Canada every year (we actually allow 265,000, but of course we have some folks who strangely choose to leave Canada – I bet those decisions are made in the dead of winter). When combined with our birth rate, the net positive immigration rate results in overall population growth.

The vast majority of our immigrants gravitate to the large urban centres (some 100,000 now come to Toronto and its suburbs each year). When coupled with the well documented trend of domestic migration from rural to urban areas, or urbanization, this leads to even greater growth in our cities. In fact, it is estimated that the population of Toronto in 2050 will be the same as combining the cities of Montreal and Toronto of today. And we complain about traffic gridlock now!

Interestingly, by 2031, one third of all Canadians will belong to a visible minority, and the percentage in Toronto (and other major centres) will be over 60%. Further, visible minorities tend to be younger – their average age is 33 versus 40 for all of Canada – and tend to have higher birth rates. The face of Canada, particularly its cities, is indeed changing rapidly.

Almost 60% of today’s immigrants come from Asia, most notably India, Pakistan and China. For insurance brokers operating in major urban centres, how are you targeting these emerging, growing communities? Have you hired brokers who are fluent in Punjabi, Cantonese or Mandarin?

Strong immigration is a key reason why we have sustained such a strong housing and condo market in both the GTA and other metropolitan areas in Canada. Demand for housing has remained high. Of course, this growth in urbanization has increased the stress on an already antiquated infrastructure, and the associated need for both investment in, and construction of, new sustainable infrastructure to combat our current infrastructure deficit is well documented.

Indeed, Canada is the 11th largest global economy by GDP, but is currently the world’s 5th largest construction economy, in part due to massive construction expenditures in the oil and gas and mining sectors but also due to the requirements of a growing population. The prognosis for construction spending in Canada appears strong for the foreseeable future.

So as an insurance broker, it makes intuitive sense to be thinking seriously about investment in the construction space if one is not already there.

The face of Canada is also aging. In fact, the fastest growing age group is seniors aged 65 and over. In 2015, there will be more people in this age group than those 15 and younger for the first time in our country’s history.

Currently, there are some 5 million Canadians who are 65 or older, and by 2035 this cohort will double to some 10 million or 25% of Canadians. By 2050, one in ten (more than 4 million people) will be over 80, and unfortunately, deaths will outnumber births in Canada annually from 2020 through to 2046!

What does an aging population require? Obviously, healthcare, assisted living and requisite support services leap immediately to mind. But what about from an insurance perspective? Insurance brokers thinking about this demographic trend might want to consider developing an expertise in the emerging needs of this segment. My guess is the number of businesses that will concentrate on and cater to the aging population will grow significantly. How do you capture these businesses as clients?

The demographic trends of population growth, urbanization, strong immigration and an aging populace are inevitable and will continue to change the face of Canada in the years to come. Those wise enough to consider these changes, as suggested by Kennedy, stand to benefit immensely and won’t miss the future.

For those of us who choose to ignore his advice, and find our insurance careers not working out, we can always try the funeral business. But don’t wait too long, I hear people are just dying to get in.

Wishing you and your families all the very best for a joyous holiday season and a wonderful 2015, and with very best of regards,

 

10 WAYS TO MAXIMIZE YOUR SURETY CREDIT

10 WAYS TO MAXIMIZE YOUR SURETY CREDIT

Contracting is an extremely risky business. Indeed the average life expectancy of a construction company is only about 7 years, yet many firms last much longer. Interestingly, there seem to be certain common characteristics exhibited by the most successful of these firms. Many of these traits also happen to be the key areas that surety underwriters focus on, and if put into practice by a contractor, should result in greater surety credit being made available. In fact, these tips might just help you in building a more successful business over the long term.
Having spent the past 20 years focused on the construction industry, working with contractors and their brokers as a surety underwriter, I have developed a deep and lasting respect for contractors – pure entrepreneurs who risk everything by committing to get a job done for a specific price. My job is to evaluate and assess construction and business risk, and ultimately to decide whether to put my company’s assets on the line in support of a contractor on a particular project or on his entire work program.
Sureties evaluate the three C’s of credit in their assessment of a contractor – character (integrity), capacity (ability to do the work, track record) and capital (working capital, net worth, cash). In short, a contractor must inspire a fourth C in the underwriter – Confidence. If my confidence level in the abilities of a contractor is high, I am going to support the contractor to the maximum amount I can. In my experience, here are some of the things that I look for:

1. PLANNING

The most successful contractors plan for their success. They budget and forecast revenues, expenses and cash flow and compare these projections to actual numbers. They develop annual and often longer term business plans and execute them effectively. They plan for the future by establishing well thought out succession plans. In short, they keep surprises to a minimum. Planning effectively, and sharing your organizations direction with your surety underwriter, is a big plus.

2. STICK TO YOUR KNITTING

Focus on work you know your organization can handle. Variables to consider include scope of work, resource allocation, size of jobs and geographic location. The best contractors demonstrate discipline and self control in the work they pursue and will not “bet the company” on any one job. A great contractor once told me sometimes the best job is the one you do not bid.

3. BUILD NET WORTH AND WORKING CAPITAL

We look for our contractors to make money and keep profit (at least some) in the company. I know this sounds rather obvious, but the most successful contractors are those that have built a strong foundation by adding to their financial resources year in and year out. Working capital, the liquidity or net cash resources of a firm, is a true sign of strength and demonstrates a contractor’s ability to deal with the inevitable short term hiccups involved in the business. Most sureties will simply calculate net worth and working capital and apply a leverage factor to determine the maximum support in terms of bonded and un-bonded aggregate costs to complete they will grant a contractor. A basic rule of thumb is the higher your working capital, the more surety support you will get.

4. AVOID THE BANK

With few exceptions, General Contractors should have net cash balances and not borrow (except to finance fixed assets). Sureties tend to have a negative view to Generals that borrow regularly to either finance day to day operations or work in progress, and these companies will generally not get the same surety support as companies that run with cash balances. Subs, by their nature, tend to be borrowers as they have to finance labour and materials. For both, it is important to have an operating line of credit available to you that can act as a buffer if cash flow gets tight, and make sure you set it up when times are good (ok, this may now be too late!). Remember that the banks will give you an umbrella only when the sun is shining, and depending on the timing of the economic cycle and management’s flavour of the month are either in construction or out of it. Don’t allow the bank to take cash resources to secure the operating line of credit as this simply defeats the purpose of getting it in the first place.
The bottom line is that if you rely heavily on the bank you have given up some of the control and flexibility of your organization. Speaking of bottom lines, the contractor earning interest income because he has cash has a competitive advantage over the contractor paying out interest expense because he borrows.
If possible, use fixed assets such as land and buildings and equipment to borrow a longer term to help create working capital.

5) KEEP YOUR COMPANY “CLEAN AND SIMPLE”

Complex and confusing organizations with different year ends and numerous inter-company transactions do not inspire confidence in your underwriter (and they are far more work for us to understand). Clean and straightforward organizations get the most support. If you are going to invest in opportunities outside of your construction business, keep them separate from and without compromising your bread and butter contracting business.

6. PRACTICE PRUDENT RISK MANAGEMENT

Reduce and spread your risk by signing good contracts, ensure the company you are working for can and will pay you, bond back your own sub-trades and major suppliers. Take as much risk out of your jobs as you can and protect your margin.
We are seeing an ever increasing pass through of risk down from owners and their consultants to contractors, and prudent risk management control is a must. Ensure your business is adequately insured, including key man life and critical illness insurance payable to your business in the event of your untimely demise or illness.

7. KEEP DISPUTES AND LITIGATION TO A MINIMUM

Litigation is expensive and with uncertain outcomes the only sure winners tend to be the lawyers. Construction is all about disputes and excellence in dispute resolution is a differentiating factor for the best contractors. Sureties do not like to issue lien bonds and hate getting dragged into disputes. As an underwriter, I have the highest confidence in organizations that deal with their problems quickly
and quietly.

8. BUILD THE BEST TEAM OF PROFESSIONALS YOU CAN

Surround yourself with experts in all facets of your business. This includes your surety and insurance broker, your accountant, lawyer, banker and underwriter. I find that the best contractors draw on these resources almost like an external board of directors and use the advice of truly knowledgeable people in helping shape and direct their business. There are very few experts in each of these areas in each region of Canada, so make sure you get the best you possibly can and use them whenever possible.

9. PROVIDE QUALITY INFORMATION

Regular information flow to your underwriter allows him or her to know what’s going on in your organization. Most sureties look to receive accurate and timely quarterly updates of financial statements, work on hand reports, listings of accounts receivable and payable from their active accounts. Advance notice of large upcoming tenders is also a plus. The better the information flow to your surety the more comfort they will have with your program and the more support you will get. Sureties generally require annual financial statements to be prepared on a review engagement or audited basis. Notice to reader statements generally are not acceptable.

10. GET TO KNOW YOUR SURETY UNDERWRITER

Insist on getting to know your surety underwriter, and especially the decision makers within the surety company. Our comfort with a contractor tends to increase with familiarity and if we can get together face to face from time to time it will help you maximize
your support.

Hopefully, some of these tips will help you understand more about how a surety underwriter approaches your business and will enable you to maximize your surety support. More importantly, I hope they will help you grow and manage your business even more successfully in the future.