Our newly created diversity and inclusion team has been hard at work sharing powerful employee stories and educational resources like our
How To Be an Ally
Adapting & Evolving During a Pandemic   
Tahnee Malazdrewicz
Marketing & Events Coordinator, IBAO
Alena Kharkavets
VP Digital Strategy & Customer Experience
Jay Regimbal
Account Executive
Youngs Insurance Brokers
Bibi Tiwari
Customer Service Representative, Commercial Lines/Special Risk
Do you have an innovation strategy? 
Absolutely. These days, customers want personalized advice in a digitized manner. Our goal is to have three out of four customers actively engaging with us digitally, and our strategies revolve around this goal. For digital projects, we review our road map monthly and run in two–week sprints. We focus on three to four projects that will have maximum impact and prune the rest.
We do. We have a great team and have adapted well with staff on a rotating basis working from home and managing their workload electronically.
Innovation strategy is something you always have to be working on. Prior to COVID-19 we were strategizing with many of our account executives and management to have the ability to work remotely. We’re promoting our new online quoting tool and improving our social media presence. We encourage staff to share on social media—at our annual meeting we present an award to our most active social media employees. We’ve also upgraded our phone systems to help with call tracking and notetaking.
Has your office introduced any new training programs since the pandemic?
Yes, and it was critical. To start, we ran customer experience sessions to help our 1,400+ frontline staff provide the best service during this time. Managers took part in mental health training and we launched
Together at BrokerLink
—an employee hub with virtual fitness sessions, tips to work from home effectively and activities for parents with kids.
Since the pandemic, health and safety have been of utmost importance. We connect remotely via Zoom and by email. We have great IT assistance—they play an important role and have been wonderful. Workflows have transitioned smoothly across the board.
Pandemic protocols have all been reviewed. Our work and safety committees in each office are now taking a larger role in helping us manage the limitation of staff in the office. We’ve always encouraged our staff to keep current with training. In our policies and procedures manual there’s a chapter dedicated to training programs with guidelines to help with expenses if staff are looking to better themselves professionally. If they want to grow, we want to help out.
What processes have you implemented to digitize workflows?
We embrace digital solutions from all our partners, like Intact’s Client Centre. Having 76% of customer emails on file, we were able to share customer relief measures overnight. Currently we’re working on an AI–powered chatbot for our Helpdesk team to better support our employees. Last year, one of our brokers was trained in design thinking. Earlier this year she ran a sprint on how to make our office paperless, which was especially helpful when we started working from home!
Our office has implemented our workflow via eDocs, so everything’s done electronically. With a focus on great communication and service, we as brokers are here to assist our clients no matter what.
Our main focus for helping to digitize our workflow is using company portals for change. We also have a workflow within our BMS to have changes saved directly for processing.
What security protocols have you put in place to share information digitally with staff working from home?
Keeping customer information safe is top of mind and pre-COVID we kept pace with security protocols. With an increase in phishing attacks, our tech team simulated a series of phishing emails to make sure we have a strong and secure culture. We also broadened our use of WebEx, a secure video conferencing tool, to keep in touch with one another.

All information is treated with the utmost privacy as if in the office and every client’s information is completely secure. The same protocols are followed and any communication by correspondence is done electronically.
Our IT department was ahead of the game before COVID-19 hit and had many security protocols already in place. Since then, our IT department has implemented new sign–in procedures, created single stream printing in our offices and improved our connection to remote servers and VPN.
What opportunities are there to further encourage digitization within your office?
Customers value advice, but they want an effortless process. We’re actively looking at digitizing payments, renewals and policy changes for our customers, including commercial quoting. To help our brokers, our analytics team started building renewal and cross–sell predictive models. It’s exciting how much opportunity there is in this industry.
Electronic correspondence has taken communication between the client and broker to the next level. It’s given clients the ability to review their policies and wordings from home and respond to their broker all at once. The possibilities in digitization are endless.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. We need to be consistent with our customers and provide them with the information the way they want it.
Here we are. Over six months since the pandemic hit, and a lot has changed. Brokerages and businesses have shown resilience and taken on the challenge in adapting to this new normal. At the forefront is the implementation of digital strategies and finding new ways to communicate electronically. Here we speak with three Ontario Brokers on how their brokerage continues to adapt.
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Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario
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Toronto, ON M4P 3A1
416.488.7422 | 800.268.8845
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