Major Canadian insurer riding the digital wave

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The insurance industry has always traditionally been slow to adopt digital technologies. But with customers now demanding the kinds of services and tools being offered in other industries, most notably retail and healthcare, the change wave has reached even these easy shores. For Dundas Life Co-founder and President Gregory Rozdeba – long a proponent of the empowered consumer – innovation cannot happen quickly enough.

“Let’s be clear – getting an insurance policy is not always a straight shot,” he said. “One bank or insurance provider might be all paper and have one process while another might be half paper and half digital and have another process.”

Gregory Rozdeba - Co-founder and President, Dundas Life
Gregory Rozdeba – Co-founder and President, Dundas Life

But then along came a global pandemic, which put insurers on the path to rapid technological innovation. With many Canadians under health authority guidance to avoid nonessential contact, obtaining signatures for insurance documents became tricky. The pandemic also posed challenges for business generation and client ID verification – something normally done in person.

“E-signature technology has been around for many years, but until COVID its adoption was slow,” said Rozdeba. “Insurers want to empower consumers, and a technology like e-signature is a way to do that.”

Enhancing the Experience

Rozdeba said innovation in the insurance sector is not a simple matter of bringing in a few digital tools. “Ours has been such a slow industry to evolve. But innovating and moving forward is not only a matter of implementing specific technologies.” Today’s model insurer, he said, aims to combine modern technology with personalized service.

Download free report: “Profiles in Innovation Series: Financial Services”

“Often the most value comes from simple functionality,” he said. “For example, we offer an online rate comparison calculator, which allows clients and prospective clients to instantly get a quote, comparing rates across leading insurers. Using even this simple tool, people avoid overpaying for insurance by price-checking their own broker.”

For those seeking more personalized service, Dundas Life allows customers to talk live with a licensed online advisor.

“You can’t beat face-to-face – and you can still have it even when being physically together is not possible or advisable. There’s a level of comfort for clients that can talk through problems with brokers face-to-face.”

A key to providing this rich experience, said Rozdeba, has been in using technology when it is appropriate as opposed to using it at every turn. “Providing face-to-face service, particularly during a pandemic, is as simple as jumping onto a Zoom call with a client,” he said. “Sometimes a short chat is all it often takes for us to wrap our head around their situation and come together on a solution that fits.”

Visit Dundas Life online

Another key piece, he said, is speed, and Dundas Life has made a point of meeting the demand of today’s savvy customer in that regard.

“Our entire policy process can now unfold in a matter of minutes,” said Rozdeba. “A client can select their policy, fill out their application securely online, and have it reviewed and finalized by an advisor in less time than it takes to have lunch. We’ve also streamlined and tech-enabled our claims process, which is a huge plus for clients.”

Cloud for Big and Small

Cloud, said Rozdeba, remains a huge growth area among insurers. “I know that EQ Bank has their core systems hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS), and they have touted that as a huge victory, which it certainly is as it gives them more flexibility in deploying services and sharing data securely with relevant parties.”

Cloud helps anchor small and medium-sized insurers who may lack the infrastructure to properly support their systems or the staff to to maintain uptimes. Cloud allows these companies to offer enterprise services at a low cost.

For larger insurers, cloud allows for the swift deployment of new digital services with a lower cost of ownership overall. “This gives the bigger guys the flex and agility of the smaller but more nimble enterprises,” said Rozdeba.

Mass Change at the Door

Continued innovation in the insurance industry, and the universal adoption of innovations already adopted by some insurers, is now only a matter of time.

“Most people in our industry, particularly those of newer ‘vintage,’ know exactly what needs to take place,” he said. “It’s just going to take time and capital. Right now one of the biggest challenges in the industry is a lack of urgency. If you’re an insurer and things are running smoothly, all things considered, is there really any urgency to make major changes? No. But the pandemic has worked wonders to speed up the development of broker-facing technology. These incremental improvements are driving a small tech arms race which will inevitably improve the client experience and simplify the way brokers do business.”

Rozdeba stressed that Dundas Life is strongly on the side of change – of evolving how it does things and empowers its customers. But Rome, he said, wasn’t built in a day.

“With some of the walls and roadblocks to innovation right now, it may just be the nature of the beast right now. Remember that the average age of an insurance advisor in North America is 61 years old – born around 1960. But if you figure your average Canadian retires at 65 or 67, the changeover en masse to full digital is very near.”

Download free report: “Profiles in Innovation Series: Financial Services”

Visit Dundas Life online


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Glenn Weir
Glenn Weir
Content writer at IT World Canada. Book lover. Futurist. Sports nut. Once and future author. Would-be intellect. Irish-born, Canadian-raised.