Spring 2020 Edition

Pat Van Bakel

Pat Van Bakel: Severe weather and the impact on claims adjusting

The average annual severe weather claims paid by insurers in Canada could more than double over the next 10 years, according to a new report from the Insurance Institute of Canada. Climate risks present challenges and opportunities to all areas of the insurance industry. The Pace recently sat down with Pat Van Bakel, Chair of the Insurance Institute of Canada and president and CEO of Crawford Canada for his take on how severe weather events impact the independent adjuster field.

"There's no question that the volatility and severity of weather events has become a bigger challenge for the claims industry," says Pat.

Because of the significant spikes in claim volumes that stem from this type of event, it makes it more challenging for the industry to maintain capacity to respond to and address these claims. "Timing, location and the nature of these events is unpredictable, but what is predictable is that they are going to occur," says Pat.

So how do claims management firms like Crawford adapt to changing weather patterns and large-scale weather events? “Our organization has a variable resource network of catastrophe adjusters globally -- predominantly in North America. We can tap into this network when needed to respond to these events with capacity but also with specific expertise on the type of event.” Whether it’s earthquake, wind, hail, flood or other event, Pat says they have thousands of specially trained individuals who are ready, willing and able to respond when catastrophe strikes. “We can mobilize them when needed,” he says. “They may be snowbirds or retirees who are happy to work a few months a year or young professionals looking for the challenge and variety that this part of our industry offers.”

Technology has also changed the way claims adjusting is handled through things like the adoption of self-service and on-demand data collection and digital solutions. “We have tapped into the gig economy through a business called WeGoLook. It’s sort of like the ‘Uber’ of inspections where we have people go out and collect information and photographs, or even simply drop off information packets to help policyholders. They don’t have the skill to handle the claim but they can assist the adjuster by providing more information about what’s going on in the field. It saves time because more work can be handled from the office.”

He adds that more is being done through digital solutions that are being developed across the claims spectrum. These innovations are helping to engage policyholders and the suppliers in claim handling more than ever before. “Self-service and data integration frees up claims adjusters to focus more on the unique requirements they need to perform in order to process the claim and provide the best service possible. For example, at Crawford we had well over 30 different projects in 2019 purely focused on innovation.”

He notes that Canada has a great reputation for claims handling worldwide. “We’ve seen a high regard for Canadian claims adjusters from the global claims community,” says Pat. “The world looks to Canada when there is a catastrophic event because there is a high degree of confidence in the capabilities of Canadian adjusters. The professional designations offered by the Insurance Institute of Canada (IIC) such as the CIP and FCIP are globally recognized. It would be very unusual for a year to go by where we do not have adjusters working abroad, in fact currently we have adjusters in Australia helping to respond to the devastating claims from the wildfires.”

Summing up, Pat says a career in claims adjusting can be very fulfilling. “Through my own experience, and in speaking to adjusters I’ve known who have shared their experiences, it can be very impactful knowing you can be there and help people during some of the worst times of their life.”

Here is Pat Van Bakel’s advice for anyone interested in a career in claims adjusting:

  • To be a good claims adjuster you need to be curious -- a problem solver and someone who can think outside of the box. Of course, you need the technical skills and aptitudes, but softer skills such as the ability to handle high stress environments and work in short term bursts of energy as well as being capable of connecting and empathizing with clients are equally important.
  • Education is critical because the public expects a certain level of knowledge, professionalism and training. You need formal and informal or experiential education to give you the foundation to build a career on. In some cases, you will need to take educational courses to maintain your licence. Take advantage of specialized continuing education offered by your company or the Institute to augment your learning and expertise based on your claims specialty.
  • Find a mentor – someone who can help you navigate the business. Claims adjusting is much different than it was years ago. There is a lot more specialization in areas such as cyber, cat, fire, flood and casualty. Find someone with lots of experience in the area you would like to specialize in and learn as much as you can from them.

Amy Dale

Filling the talent gap in Commercial Insurance

As the insurance landscape continues to evolve, more career opportunities are opening up for professionals with commercial lines knowledge and skills. The Pace recently spoke to Amy Dale, CIP, Underwriting Manager, North Kent Mutual Insurance, about her experience in commercial underwriting, and how earning the Commercial Insurance Certificate helps her in her day-to-day job.

The Pace: How did you become involved in the Commercial side of insurance?

Amy: I began working for a mutual insurance company as a property underwriter—just over six years ago—which included personal, farm and commercial underwriting.

The Pace: What makes you feel good about the work you do?

Amy: I love the work we do as a company, and I am very proud to be a part of my team. We’re able to work well together to reach common goals and meet our deadlines. What I like the most about commercial insurance is how different and individual each policy is. I love assessing the risk and pointing out some risk controls that the insured may not have considered.

The Pace: Why did you decide to take the Insurance Institute’s Commercial Insurance Certificate program?

Amy: Although I already have some experience in commercial insurance, I decided to take the Commercial Insurance Certificate program to expand my knowledge to be able to do my job more effectively and efficiently.

The Pace: How has the program helped you in your day-to-day job?

Amy: The information I have learned and knowledge I have gained, has given me more confidence in quoting and answering commercial insurance questions from the agents and brokers I deal with.

The Pace: What message do you have for anyone in the industry considering the Commercial Insurance Certificate program?

Amy: I highly recommend this program. I found the courses to be very interactive—you’re not just memorizing information in order to pass a test. The chapters were easy to read and included scenarios and examples which help make the coverages being taught, make sense. The tests are conveniently held online and based on case studies where you can apply the knowledge you gained from the course. I found this style of learning and testing to be a better way of assessing our knowledge of the topics that we learned throughout each course.

The Pace: What do you like to do on your day off?

Amy: My favorite thing to do on my day off is to spend time with my family—especially my wonderful grandchildren.

man covering mouth and eyes

We want to hear from you. What is your response to our second ethical dilemma?

Through hypothetical examples we are engaging our members in a discussion to explore some of the grey areas inherent in ethical situations. In the last issue of The Pace, we published a selection of responses to a scenario related to doing business in a small community.

In this issue, we present a new dilemma for your feedback. We would like to publish some of the most considered and thoughtful responses we receive from our graduate community to share with the broader membership in the next issue.

Here is our ethical scenario:

The broker had been employed in the industry for 10 years, but this was her first hard market experience.

For six months she had spent additional time with each of her clients explaining the price increases and reduced coverage. She had worked diligently finding extra credits or convincing clients to accept renewals based on their preferences. But she found herself overworked, handling renewals just a week before the expiry date. Her clients were unhappy and retention rates were dropping. When she asked management for help, she received no support. Everyone was feeling stretched and this was becoming the new normal.

Then one day while discussing a renewal with an underwriter, she thought she found a solution. The underwriter was in a similar position. The underwriter was being pressured to maintain a high percentage of renewals, but the rates had increased 25% and some of the coverages were being reduced or not available on renewal. He mentioned that by issuing renewals by further reducing or eliminating coverages or limits, some of which had been added in the past years, insureds would accept the renewals because the price would be similar to the last renewal. New business could be generated with lower limits as well.

Their solution involved the underwriter reviewing the areas where there had been increases in claims over the past two years and the classes of business where there had been severity and frequency issues. If the area was low risk, the broker would issue a request to the underwriter for reduced limits on renewal. The broker prepared a form renewal letter for these clients with very basic information. The broker and underwriter marked these files for the future and intended to increase coverage when it was more affordable again.

The broker and underwriter were careful not to apply the strategy for higher risk files or for those insureds who they knew carefully reviewed their renewals. They would spend time trying to place cover for these.

The underwriter and broker were able to maintain good retention rates and even write new business.

During this hard market, the clients were happy with the renewal and price, and the underwriter and broker received praise from their employers. Certainly, the solution was in everyone’s best interest.

Send your responses to ethics@insuranceinstitute.ca. You will be contacted should your response be selected for publication. Thank you in advance for your participation.

Learn more

Did you know that the CIP Society regularly publishes a column on professional ethics in Canadian Underwriter magazine? Each column explores issues surrounding a real-life ethical dilemma that professionals in the p&c insurance industry may encounter in the workplace. You can access past columns on our website.

Kamran Afshar

Kamran Afshar – an insurance career takes flight

Kamran Afshar has worked in the insurance business for 13 years. In his current role as a commercial lines manager for Intact, he oversees all the auto underwriters in Toronto. It’s a job he enjoys but one he never would have imagined growing up. He talked to us about falling into insurance and what he has learned along the way.

Kamran’s parents worked in the airline industry and he grew up fascinated with airplanes and eager to work in aviation. “Throughout university I worked for Air Canada in the summers. I took a role with them after I graduated.” His future seemed settled.

However, in 2006 Air Canada went through a restructure and laid off a number of employees. As a junior worker and a recent recruit, Kamran was let go.

When a university friend reached out and alerted him to a broker role at her company it seemed like the ideal stopgap position. “I initially thought it would be part time until I went back to Air Canada. That was 13 years ago.”

He joined Grey Power Insurance as a sales and service broker. “To this day, those years were not only the most challenging but the most rewarding.” The front-line role had him on the phones servicing existing clients and drumming up new ones. “I learned sales strategy, how to manage time and priorities, create efficiencies, and as I became more tenured in the role, how to coach others to be successful.” The skills he developed would form the bedrock for later positions.

Though he was doing well at Grey Power, he still felt the pull of aviation. A manager suggested he enrol in the CIP program but he resisted at first. “I wasn’t ready to commit to a career in the [insurance] field.” He was persuaded to take one course as a trial. He took Broker Essentials. He found it so engaging he decided to pursue his designation. “I realized pretty quickly through taking my CIP how interesting, complex, and layered the insurance industry is.”

Over the next few years he managed three different sales and service teams. “My job was to support, coach and engage them to meet our organization’s strategic objectives.” In 2015 he moved to the Intact Insurance head office and into a business development manager role in broker distribution. After two years he was on the move again, transitioning into personal lines, and then two years later into commercial. The move to commercial was a significant departure from previous roles and he found his membership in the CIP society - a benefit of his CIP designation - a valuable asset. He’d always made use of the Insurance Institute’s industry news publications, networking events and mentorship opportunities, but now he found further benefits. “One of the first things I did was sign up for the ‘Fundamentals of Commercial Auto’ seminar, which gave me a great overview that I needed at the time.”

While finding his feet in commercial lines, Kamran began to attend events held by the Young Insurance Professionals of Toronto (YIPT). It enabled him to meet industry colleagues and make new friends. He began to speak on panels at career and recruitment sessions. In 2018 he got the opportunity to join the YIPT’s mentorship program and became a mentor. It felt like coming full circle. “I owe a lot to managers and mentors who have given me some great advice along the way in terms of opportunities and avenues to take. That’s why it’s really important for me to pay it forward and give back to junior employees that are coming up.” His efforts won him the Young Insurance Professional of the Year award a year later.

Kamran has built charity work into the core of his life. He volunteers through Intact’s partnership with United Way. He also runs a charity he co-founded in memory of his brother. The Mehran Afshar Scholarship Fund has raised over $65,000 for young people in continuing education who need support.

Thirteen years into his career and Kamran has nothing but enthusiasm for the work he does. For those starting out in insurance his advice is three-pronged:

  • Never stop learning: “I think we get comfortable in a role, but learning and progressing are really key attributes to success.”
  • Don’t be afraid to seize new opportunities: “I’ve taken on quite a few different roles and some at the time I didn’t feel I was fully prepared for, but in retrospect it really helped me grow both in terms of my career and as a person.”
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help: “There are a lot of leaders in the industry who are willing to give back if they’re asked. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and guidance and mentorship as you go along your own journey.”

From a temporary job, to a remarkable career, wherever Kamran’s career takes him next, it’s sure to be impressive.

Consumer campaign

CIP messaging is reaching millions of Canadians!

If you have your CIP or FCIP designation, you know that the CIP Society actively promotes the designations to Canadians. Our goal is to make the general public aware that there are more than 18,000 Chartered Insurance Professionals who are educated, knowledgeable and prepared for more.

We want everyone to understand the value of the CIP and FCIP designations. Over the last two years, we’ve worked to get this message seen and heard across Canada using online video, print, social media and in the last several months, podcast advertising. Here are a few examples of CIP advertising.

Andrea Vollans

A day in the life: Andrea Vollans, Business Analyst, Applied Systems

Lifelong learning and career growth helped Andrea Vollans land the job of her dreams. “With the seemingly continuous evolution of key roles, and with new ones being added all the time the insurance industry has something to offer everyone, says Andrea. A career in insurance empowers you to take your passions, skills, and education -- whether it be sports, music, film, tech or business – and follow a path that is right for you.”

Though her entry into the industry was unconventional, coming after an accident that left her reconsidering her future career options, Andrea has never looked back and is thankful for the endless opportunities insurance has provided her.

Now with over 13 years of experience, Andrea has navigated the insurance industry with a desire to learn and grow to meet the needs of this constantly evolving and changing sector.

The starting point

From an accident that left Andrea with two broken feet, she found herself in limbo and needed to re-evaluate her career prospects. Leaving her job as a camp counsellor, she was considering returning to school until a friend told her about a new job at a local brokerage and Andrea was intrigued.

“I decided to look into it while I figured out what I wanted to do next,” she says. “It turns out, I became fascinated with the industry and found that it was filled with things I really liked to do, especially connecting with and helping people.”

The career journey

Now, with over a decade in the industry, Andrea has explored a variety of insurance roles. Beginning at her local brokerage and learning the ropes, she serviced policies over the phone for clients across Ontario. Soon after, she wanted to expand her understanding of the business and sought out new opportunities, “I wanted to gain experience in a more traditional brokerage,” Andrea explains.

In her new role, Andrea was encouraged to adopt a philosophy of, and commit to, lifelong learning. “The company I was with supported my desire to expand my knowledge and they covered the costs for additional designations,” Andrea says.

During this time, she was also fortunate to expand her network as a member of her local Broker Association Board of Directors serving as both Secretary and Treasurer.

Andrea also became an Insurance Institute Ambassador - a role she loves. “This gave me the opportunity to share my passion for the insurance industry with career seekers who were seeking out their own path,” she says.

But Andrea did not stop there.

“After a few years, I was starting to look at expanding my knowledge and expertise even further when an opportunity presented itself to pursue the job of my dreams. Although it was a very difficult decision to leave my role with the brokerage and the board, I could not pass up the chance to grow professionally in a whole new branch of the industry -- InsureTech.”

Today, Andrea leverages her years of experience in the insurance industry and passion for technology working as a Business Analyst. In her role, she monitors emerging industry and product trends to develop new features, increase the functionality within custom software applications, and improve comparative quoting and workflows for brokers.

The transition into InsureTech has proved to be challenging but that’s what Andrea has come to love about the insurance industry – there is always a new challenge. She feels a great deal of personal and professional satisfaction when she’s using her acquired knowledge of the industry and is contributing to building the applications and software solutions that help brokers to do their job well.

Why insurance?

Andrea loves that working in insurance is never boring. She states, “I think I fell into the industry out of necessity but stayed because it fulfilled my desire to always grow and learn.” She has found enjoyment and satisfaction from carving out a career path that is anchored by personal and professional growth.

Advice and insights

When asked for advice from professionals contemplating their career options within the insurance industry, she suggests really pushing past any preconceived notions about what a career path should look like. She says, “Don’t believe that your career needs to be linear or finish in the same role or area of the business as where it started. There really are so many opportunities within the insurance umbrella. Understand your passions and explore all that the industry has to offer.”

Fun facts

Fun Facts

  • Did you know that there are coverages available when you have children who want to walk dogs or sell lemonade? If anything gets broken, the dog gets lost, or people got sick due to a bad lemon, insurance has you covered.
  • In celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month in March… here are a few demographic facts about the insurance industry - 62% of the workforce identifies as female with 49% of women in management roles and 36% in senior management roles. This means, the face of p&c insurance is a 42-year-old who identifies as female and most likely leads a claims or underwriting department.
  • Pop-up stores are one of the most trendy and innovative ways that companies are promoting products to their customers. Even though they are temporary locations, there are still liabilities and risks associated with them, some of which may not be covered under a regular commercial policy. Companies and retailers shouldn’t worry though… there’s insurance for that.
  • Want to travel when you retire, but scared of leaving your home unattended? Have you thought about living on a cruise ship? You can get the best of both worlds but make sure to get insurance to stay protected.

Exam winners

Ace your exams with these award winners' tips

Our examination period is fast approaching. We’ve asked our recent Institute award winners what their top study tips are to help you make the most of your exam experience. We hope these tips will help you prepare for and write your exams with confidence.

Organize a study group

Many students who have colleagues or friends enrolled in the same courses find it helpful to spend time studying with their colleagues. This may allow you to get different perspectives on a topic or concept and share your viewpoints with others who have questions. Explaining things verbally can also help with remembering the topic.

“I find a way to reread my courses during my breaks at work, even if it is for one hour. I also like to discuss concepts that I don't understand with my fellow insurance professionals.” said Kouame Ahou Nadege.

Utilize the practice questions

Many students use the practice questions in the textbook, student resource guide and/or online tutorial to test their knowledge. Instructors recommend writing out the answers to the practice questions and reciting them out loud while also ensuring you can provide practical examples for each question. Remember, the exams contain multiple choice, short answer and essay questions.

Do not leave studying to the last minute

Do not wait until a week or two before your examination to start studying. All students emphasized the importance of taking the time each week to read and review a chapter or objective in the textbook. This can alleviate the stress and pressure you may experience closer to your examination date.

Anya Biryuk shared that she found it helpful to pre-read the chapters before her class for the week and dedicated at least 6 hours per week to study time.

Find you learning style and make a plan

Work with your learning and studying style to maximize your time and effort. what works best for you and make a study plan that fits into your lifestyle. For example, many students prefer reading the textbook materials and then writing it out or reciting the information repeatedly.

Alex Papakonstantinou says “I start with the notes early. I would normally start at least three months prior to the final exam as the time to create the notes may take up to 80% of your total study time. Rewriting the content in a bullet/list format also helps me in retaining the information better.”

On the day of your exam

Stay calm and relax before the examination. Read the questions twice before answering them. Some students and instructors recommended answering the questions you know first to motivate your thinking for the rest of the questions.

Here is some important information about the exam process:

Before your final exam

  • Confirm your exam date, time and location by logging into your online member account.
  • Students can change their exam timeslot up until two weeks before final exams begin.
  • For more information on exam timetables, please see Exam Times & Schedules

On the day of your final exam

  • Ensure you know your Member ID and password to login to your computer-based exam.
  • Government photo ID will be required at the start of the exam.
  • Without photo ID or Member ID, students will be required to reschedule their exam and may be applicable to a rescheduling fee. Please see Examination Rules & Regulations.

After your final exam

  • Students are notified by email when their course results are released. Please ensure your member profile is up-to-date.
  • Release dates will vary by course. For more information, please see Course Grades.
  • Examination appeals are available to those who were unsuccessful in a course. For more information, please refer to Examination Appeals.

If you’re interested in more study tips for exam success, check out our Preparing for your Examination resource online.

Notice board

Notice board

It's almost membership renewal time again

As you know, your membership year runs from June 1 to May 31, and very soon we'll be sending out the 2020/2021 Membership Renewal Notices. Prompt renewal of your Institute membership enables you to continue towards your educational goals and be offered exciting professional development opportunities along the way. As well as this, we’ll keep you up to date with the latest industry knowledge and news.

If your employer participates in our MemberDirect Membership Renewal Program, you might not receive an invoice yourself, as your HR team will be handling it. If you do receive an invoice, or if you are a member who is billed individually for your renewal, please respond promptly—we appreciate it. Keeping your employer information and other contact information up to date on your profile will ensure you receive your renewal invoice in a timely manner. Continued active membership will ensure that service interruptions are avoided and that you will always have access to the latest industry knowledge and news.

Keep in touch

Have your contact details changed? Help us to keep you up to date.

The Insurance Institute is here to help you enhance your professional life and keep you abreast of all the latest industry knowledge and exciting new opportunities. We’re always developing new seminars, courses, and events for industry professionals. However, to ensure we’re able to keep you in “the industry loop,” we need to have your current contact details.

Have you changed jobs? Do we have your e-mail address?

The Institute is now making an effort to be more environmentally conscious by sending out more e-mail communications. So if you haven’t received anything from us in e-mail format, chances are we either have an incorrect e-mail address for you or no e-mail address at all.

It's so easy to update your on-line profile. Just log in as a new or existing on-line user, go to ”My Profile” and update your contact information—it’s quick and easy! And while you’re there, remember that, on our website, you can research, register, and pay for courses, seminars, and events, all from the comfort of your own home or office.

The Honour Roll

A CIP designation is impressive enough in its own right. Even more impressive is an Honours CIP—eight of ten CIP courses passed with honours. The following Honours graduates elected this year received their diplomas at convocation ceremonies this winter:

Honours Chartered Insurance Professionals

Yunzhe (Claire) Li

Swiss Reinsurance Co. Canada (Ontario – Greater Toronto Area)

Randy Manku

Coachman Insurance Company (Ontario – Greater Toronto Area)

Zhiquan Pan

Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Co. of Canada (Ontario – Greater Toronto Area)

Virginie Burguin Ripoll

Desjardins Assurances générales (Quebec)

Francina H. Sikkema- Smolders

Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Co. (Ontario – Greater Toronto Area)

Lindsay Tobin

Johnson Inc. (Ontario – Greater Toronto Area)

Congratulations to these outstanding graduates

Goodbye Winter, hello exams

As of spring 2017, all courses in the CIP and General Insurance Essentials Programs have computer-based examinations.

Computer-based exams (CBE) will be offered at proctored exam centres on select dates between April 1 and April 23. Once registration is complete, the examination dates schedule is available online.

Three hours are allowed for each CIP subject and two hours for GIE subjects. Good luck.

CIP Society

CIP Society Corner

ICYMI: our new Climate Risks report is out

Last month, the Institute – with support from the CIP Society – published an important research report on the implications of extreme weather and climate change on the P&C insurance industry in Canada. The report is authored by Paul Kovacs, Senior Researcher with the Insurance Institute and Founder and Executive Director of the Institute of Catastrophic Loss Reduction.

This report seeks to identify actions needed to address the risks and opportunities that will be introduced because of the expectation of increases in physical, liability, and transitional climate risks. This study explores six critical questions including:

  • What change is expected in Canada’s climate?
  • Why is an increase in physical damage expected?
  • Will anyone be found liable for climate impacts?
  • How will society transition to carbon neutrality?
  • What regulatory changes may emerge for insurers?
  • How have insurers adapted to more extreme weather?

Find out more and read the report

 IMPORTANT NOTICE: 2020 National Leadership Awards postponed until 2021

Please note that due to the current pandemic situation, we have made the difficult decision to hold in abeyance any nominations we receive this year. It seems appropriate to pause and wait to celebrate leadership in the industry until next year. Any 2020 nominations received will be considered for the awards in 2021. We anticipate that there will be some exceptional examples of leadership emerging in these difficult times, and we hope that our program can help bring those examples to light next year.

The CIP Society’s National Leadership Awards program honours CIP Society members who make exceptional achievements within their organizations, the industry at large and within their communities.

The program recognizes both Emerging leaders and Established leaders in two distinct categories. Winners are honoured at local convocation events across the country, and welcomed into the prestigious Leadership Circle, which now includes 42 distinguished leaders.

Members of the CIP Society can play a major role in ensuring the Leadership Awards are relevant and responsive to our CIP Society membership and the p&c community in Canada, by helping to identify possible candidates for the program.

Nominate a leader today

Do you have a candidate who deserves to be inducted into the CIP Society National Leadership Circle? Begin the nomination process today with a survey to help you assess your candidate’s leadership qualities as set out in the awards program.

The full nomination package includes a nomination form, which asks you to substantiate the ways in which your candidate meets the criteria of the program through their accomplishments and contributions. You will also be asked to support your nomination with reference letters from others in the industry who know your candidate well. To help facilitate the nomination process we will provide a handy nomination guide and be available to offer advice along the way.

The full nomination package must be submitted by the deadline of June 30.