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How Brokers  Never Stopped  Being Essential 
Graham Haigh, VP Broker Distribution, Wawanesa Insurance 
Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario
1 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700
Toronto, ON M4P 3A1
416.488.7422 | 800.268.8845
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The Great Leap Forward 
It would be an understatement to say the COVID–19 pandemic has pushed the industry forward. What would have taken years to accomplish was done in weeks or months.  We’re well past the point where things like remote work and the electronic exchange of funds, documentation and distribution of information are considered to be innovative; today they’re essential to our operations and valued by our  customers.  There’s no doubt the post–pandemic world will be a digitally capable one—this is most likely the last event we will respond to, as an industry, where there isn’t fully fleshed–out digital service capabilities.   Looking ahead, we’re going to see a lot more options to reduce paper–based communications, without losing sight of our customer’s needs. “There’s no one–size–fits–all response here,” cautions IBAO President  Joseph Carnevale. “There are still customers who prefer to do business on paper. In order to retain those  relationships, we need to be able to seamlessly serve customers in whichever fashion they’re most comfortable with.” 
Amongst it all, customer needs remained  top priority.
The Future of the Broker Channel
The work done by brokers has been nothing short of amazing. As a channel, you’ve truly exhibited everything expected of an essential service: you’ve been essential to policyholders and essential to your communities.  Whether over the phone, online or in person, customers will continue turning to brokers for trusted advice. The technological leaps our industry has made during this pandemic have only created a more resilient  channel—from our perspective and many others, the broker value proposition has never been stronger. 
t’s remarkable what this industry has achieved in the past few months. This is especially true given the pace of change, where no two days have seemed the same.  When the declaration of emergency was initially announced in Ontario, the first step for insurers and brokers was to adapt to social distancing guidelines and keep people safe. In most cases, this was an aggressive feat. By the end of the first day, Wawanesa had 80% of our workforce working remotely. By day three, it was 95%. Having a mature  business continuity plan helped, as did a couple of well–timed decisions—our Guidewire implementation in the last few years, and the move to laptops for our Canadian employees.  Brokers had a great deal of information come their way while transitioning operations off–site, keeping teams and loved ones safe and  continuing to provide expert advice to customers. Amongst it all, customer needs remained top priority.    Though it’s been a trying time for everyone, it’s been great to see the success of many of our brokers, some  increasing new business as they’ve successfully transitioned to serving customers remotely.   
It would be an understatement to say the COVID–19 pandemic has pushed the industry forward.
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