For many businesses, the arrival of the coronavirus crisis has meant cancelling plans and shutting down operations. But for digital insurance agencies such as Canada Protection Plan, it has meant precisely the opposite.
“Even before this event, our company had a very simple process that was pretty much e-ready,” said Michael Aziz, co-President at Canada Protection Plan. “We had one of the best e-Applications in the business, and a couple of our products already had an e-Policy: advisors could do sales over the telephone and over the internet, and we could approve an application and issue a digital policy in a day or so if everything was in good order.”
Before, that was offered as an option for customers’ convenience. But as lockdowns and other aggressive public safety measures make in-person business interactions all but impossible, insurance professionals that want to maintain their livelihood and continue to help their clientele have been pushed into adopting electronic platforms and virtual processes.
“When news of this outbreak first came out, we met as a management team and decided we wanted to get prepared,” Aziz said. “We got pretty much everybody a laptop and screens at home so that they could be prepared. When the order for everyone to work from home came down, we were ready to go.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has also pushed Canada Protection Plan to accelerate the expansion of its e-Application and e-Policy services. Originally, they were planning to take the next step of rolling out their e-Policy option for one of their products in May. But they have since had to reshuffle priorities and make e-Policies available for all their products as quickly as possible.
“We got that done within a week,” Aziz said. “We’re among the few companies, if not the only company, with an e-Application and e-Policy function available for our whole lineup of products.”
The growth in uptake has been clear. Based on year-on-year figures as of March, the company has seen double-digit percentage growth. Month-on-month sales growth from February to March has similarly reached double digits. Advisors have also been approaching Canada Protection Plan, particularly as they understand Canadians’ need for continued coverage even during periods of community quarantine.
“Pretty much every advisor already has their own computer or laptop,” Aziz said. “A lot are also becoming more acquainted with tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or GoToMeeting. People might have said they don’t like it before, but now they’re adopting them as ways to maintain relationships and help preserve some of the essential face-to-face aspects of the sales process.”
Being able to communicate directly can also be helpful for dual-licensed brokers whose clients’ portfolios have dropped. By reaching out and having visual materials on hand, they can more effectively talk to panicked clients about their long-term plans, as well as any adjustments that may be necessary moving forward.
To be sure, it’s not a perfectly seamless transition. Some advisors will have to be wary of and advise their clients against the rising risks of cyber fraud; keeping one’s spam-blocking software updated will be more crucial than ever. And Canada Protection Plan’s hotline numbers have been besieged by record numbers of clients, which means clients will likely have to make multiple attempts before they’re able to get through and have their questions addressed.
“I think people are understanding just how important insurance is now,” Aziz said. “When brokers talk to people and say ‘you need coverage for this,’ they’re pretty used to hearing ‘I’ll do it tomorrow.’ Well, I think tomorrow’s come, and now people are asking if they should review their coverage, whether they need to increase it, and all these other important questions.”