There’s been some discussion recently in the insurance trade press about what brokers want for their continuing education (CE).
Here at the Insurance Institute, the p&c industry’s education and professional development arm, we have been gathering some intelligence of our own on the question. We recently surveyed hundreds of our broker members, helping us to develop a new online continuing education program for brokers that we will start rolling out later in 2016.
The Expanded Need for Broker CE
Brokers in Canada have experienced the effects of a prolonged soft market on their continuing education needs. Typically in a soft market, insurers seek growth by increasing their market share, offering more insurance products and coverages at competitive rates.
“The companies are changing coverages,” says Julie Harnden, a commercial account manager with McDougall Insurance in Belleville, Ontario. “If you need an endorsement added because your insurer’s competitor has it, then your insurer will add it. There is no question. Also, increased capacity in a soft market has an impact – everybody needs higher limits, better frills, better packages, better coverage, lower premium.”
The client’s rapidly expanding needs affect the pace of a broker’s education, Harnden adds. In a soft market, brokers need quick and timely access to technical knowledge so that they can explain all of these new products and coverages to their clients.
Solid continuing education does not stop at giving brokers technical information. It also gives brokers the skills to research the precise information they need to give their clients the best possible advice.
For example, Melissa de Melo, a broker at Partners Indemnity Insurance Brokers Limited, is taking the Institute’s new Advanced CIP certificate program. She describes how the critical thinking skills taught in the program helps her do the right research on behalf of her clients.
“I learned how to research better,” she says of the Advanced CIP. “I think as an insurance broker, you have to advise clients on coverage and you have to understand what the client needs to insure. You need to ask the right questions, and you need to think critically.”
Brokers have told us that the quality of CE is important to them.
This is where the unique expertise of the Insurance Institute comes to the fore. The Insurance Institute has a long, rich tradition of providing continuing education to the entire p&c industry since 1899. We have a long experience in putting together CE, licensing, certificate and designation programs. We are a non-profit organization created by the p&c industry so education is our focus, not profit.
We agree in principle with the point a broker recently expressed in one publication. Speaking tongue in cheek, he said someone shouldn’t be able to “turn on the computer and walk away for an hour” to complete a CE course successfully. Regulators are quite right to be concerned about the quality of a CE course, as we are, too.
Meeting Brokers’ Needs
What else did brokers tell us they wanted from CE?
In our survey, brokers said they want advanced product knowledge and information about trending topics. They want accessible, affordable continuing education that doesn’t eat into much of their valuable time. They want their CE credits online, on demand.
The Institute is answering the call.
We already offer a number of broker CE and licensing options, including seminars and webinars on timely and emerging topics. Now we are working on delivering CE online, giving brokers the quality education they want on the topics about which they would like to hear.
Soon we will be offering the first of a forthcoming suite of online CE courses for brokers on 10 emerging issues facing brokers today – including flood, cyber insurance and the sharing economy, to name a few.
Look for our new CE program to start later in 2016. We will be in touch as more information becomes available.