Brokerage venture promises stronger high-touch service

by Leo Almazora14 Jan 2020

Two respected organizations have joined forces under a new venture to strengthen and grow their life and benefits businesses.

The venture, which took effect on January 1, brings together SC Insurance and RRJ Benefits Inc., allowing clients to access innovative resources and cutting-edge proprietary tools. Those include a digital benefits administration tool, as well as A.I.-driven solutions to simplify the life insurance application and underwriting process.

“There was a natural opportunity for synergy to be able to scale quickly and enhance our offerings,” Darren Abrahams, president of SC Insurance, told Life and Health Professional. “Now our firm is able to offer these solutions, along with our expertise honed over the decades, to all the existing relationships on both sides. “

RRJ Benefits was introduced in 2012 to provide life insurance and group benefits solutions to clients and advisors within RRJ Insurance Group Limited (RRJ), one of Canada’s largest independent brokerages. For over 110 years, RRJ has been providing property and casualty insurance solutions to thousands of clients across Ontario; its P&C solutions will be re-organized under a single brand, KRGinsure, later this year.

Meanwhile, SC Insurance, has consistently remained among Toronto’s most highly respected independent insurance brokerages focused on life insurance and benefits. Originally founded in 1979 as Steven Cohen Insurance Agency Inc, the firm is working to streamline and enhance the customer experience for its clients, while maintaining a high-touch level of service and advice.

“For me, it does feel like things have come full circle,” Abrahams said. “When I was 16 years old, I got my very first car insurance through RRJ. I carried that plastic KRG wallet for decades, and so many years later I am reconnecting with them through this venture.”

From Abrahams’ perspective, one clear win from the partnership is that his firm’s insurance clients, who have long enjoyed boutique-level support on life products, now stand to get the same thing with respect to P&C.

“As a client, forging a deep relationship with one agency, and then having to go to another in a different industry, just doesn’t make sense when more holistic insurance advice is possible,” he said. “I’m so excited to be able to offer that to our clients now through this new arrangement.”

For SC Insurance, the new venture opens a chance to extend the reach of its offerings to a much larger client base through RRJ’s many P&C-only clients. As he explained, one long-standing struggle in the life and benefits space has been a lack of promotion and education.

“Getting people to sit down and go through a review of different product options is hard to do in this era today,” he said. “Unfortunately, they often become aware of coverage and other details after they or a loved one experiences a health event, at which point they’re not likely eligible for the protection they may need for that situation. So we need to create more opportunities for brokers to dispel myths, clarify disadvantages, and educate clients to help them identify the optimal solutions to fit their needs.”

RRJ’s clients are also now able to access the SC Hub, a digital benefits administration tool that helps SC Insurance’s group benefits clients administer their programs in one single resource. Aside from removing the paper enrolment process — a concern for all clients, especially SC’s foreign clients without a Canadian HR department to welcome and onboard members — it offers features that go beyond the typical insurance, health, and dental plan.

“A lot of our clients include additional tools like virtual healthcare, which we’re able to offer at preferred rates through relationships with several providers, and administer via the Hub,” Abrahams said. “We are constantly cultivating the SC Toolkit, which encompasses several solutions — virtual care, illness protection, group RRSPs, an e-pharmacy discount program, as well as wellness and perks programs — that an administrator might want to include in to their plans through the hub.”

The digital platform and process, whose genesis came about in part from Abrahams’ exposure to the early stages of trends in the U.S. HR and benefits industry, walks new hires through the enrolment process online, and enrols them in the various plans accordingly. With that automatic process, Abrahams said, a lot of problems, hassles, and errors that are common in the benefits space are avoided.

“The client and the administrators are able to see updates as people complete the enrolment process, and the employee has an impressive introduction to their new benefit program” he said. “That real-time accuracy helps prevent timing and other issues that can create risks for the employer and the advisor.”