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Coordinating an Industry Response to the Pandemic  
With Don Forgeron, President & CEO, Insurance Bureau of Canada
With a membership representing 90% of Canada’s P&C insurance market, Insurance Bureau of Canada works with governments across the country to help make affordable home, auto and business insurance available for all Canadians.  IBC President & CEO Don Forgeron shares what the past few months have been like including the challenges of negotiating an industry response to the pandemic and  lessons learned along the way.   
Amidst a global pandemic,  what are the challenges in  demonstrating the industry’s efforts and creating a unified response to both the public and government?  
Let’s start with the point we have absolute agreement on from all parties: the P&C insurance industry needed to act rapidly to help consumers. There’s complete  understanding that all of us—insurers, brokers, agents—have a role to play in helping Canadians weather this storm. Negotiating an industry response was not without its challenges, but I’m incredibly proud of IBC members’ commitment to offering $600 million across the country in premium reductions. I believe the final tally will be much higher. This commitment, especially at the beginning of the pandemic when no one had any experience in how this might play out, is significant. It shows  consumers we understand they’re driving less, and their premiums should reflect that reality. It shows  governments we stand with their constituents and are ready to step up by demonstrating flexibility and compassion to those feeling the financial impacts of COVID-19. 
Has Canada’s P&C insurance  industry approached the pandemic differently than insurance industries in other countries?  
Canadian P&C insurers are unique in that the desire to assist consumers and the  understanding that we all have a role to play helping Canadians through the crisis was  industry wide. We were among the first to respond to the change in driving habits. And our approach was to build on that  understanding that risks had changed.  I’m confident our response to this crisis is among the most comprehensive and effective in the world.     
Our ability to effectively engage with governments and drive change in the public policy space will be affected by how Ontarians view the industry’s response to the crisis.
What’s happened to some of the bigger issues the industry  faced pre–pandemic? 
A few months ago, we were making significant progress on advancing work with government and other stakeholders in a number of areas. But the Ontario government has more pressing issues in front of them right now, which means some of these efforts won’t move forward as quickly as any of us would like. Our ability to effectively engage with governments and drive change in the public policy space will be affected by how Ontarians view the industry’s response to the crisis. The government is keenly watching how all industries respond and work to help  consumers in the province. At IBC, we continue to work with our members to ensure that governments are aware of the relief measures P&C insurers are offering their customers, both financial and in extending coverage and policy terms. Our message to the Ontario government is clear—we’re focused on being their partner to support Ontarians.  
What are some of the biggest lessons learned from the past few months? 
We should all be proud of the way our industry has responded to this crisis. The P&C insurance industry employs more than 120,000 people nationwide. Within days of governments across the country declaring states of emergency, the vast majority of those people had transitioned to working remotely, with all the challenges that presents, and were still supporting Canadians throughout a time of deep uncertainty. At IBC, we’re thinking about what the world of work will look like in 12–18 months. How do we safely bring people back to the office? How do we balance the needs of those who want to work in an office with those who prefer working remotely? How do we help people cope with the mental health challenges we know many are facing? In many ways, the biggest lessons, and challenges, are yet to come.  
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