Insurance broking has proven to be resilient through major economic cycles – and the current global pandemic is no exception. With a heightened awareness of risk, clients depend more than ever on good advice. And brokers share an advantage: the strength and trust within their client relationships.
However, the unexpected consequences of lockdown have also provided those managing insurance broking firms time to reflect. How can we be prepared for what’s next, and adapt to the changes all around us?
I spoke with Edgewise Insurance Brokers CEO Richard Coloretti about his experience. He shared his thoughts on adapting to new technology, the importance of deeper client conversations – and how complacency within the sector could in itself trigger new opportunities.
How has COVID-19 been a catalyst for change in your business, and in the sector?
Richard: Apart from working remotely – which means less immediate access to company resources and being unable to see clients in person – there has been little change to our own work practices. Having robust, secure technology has helped minimise the impact on both our business and our ability to maintain client service standards.
The way we communicate across the industry will to some extent permanently change. Before COVID-19, many people had never used Zoom, Teams or other video conferencing platforms and considered them impersonal. Now our staff and most clients are more than comfortable using them as an alternative to physical meetings.
Even though many small to mid-sized businesses have taken a revenue hit, we haven’t seen significant levels of insurance cover cancellations or changes. Why do you think this is?
Richard: Firstly I believe Australia’s small businesses have been remarkably creative in finding ways to keep trading and using government support effectively. And our primary role as brokers is to help clients through this, especially those in the sectors hit hardest.
As brokers, we’ve taken the initiative, in helping clients understand which insurance levers they can pull, and while there may be areas where they can reduce or remove cover, it is important they understand the risk and potential impact in doing this.
For example, we look after the insurance for a large restaurant in Melbourne’s CBD, and although it has been closed for four months, it still needs protection from fire or theft.
There will always be a need for business insurance in Australia; the risks of not insuring are too high. In the current environment where cost management is essential, business owners have become more interested in understanding exactly what they’re covered and how to better manage risk in their business.