Distributor or supplier?



For years we've been working with commercially-focused brokers across Canada. And it always surprises me when I see brokers sending insurer-branded quotes directly to their prospects and customers. No brokerage branding. No personalization. Just the insurer-branded PDF.

Is this wrong? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on what you believe the value proposition of a commercial broker really is. Is the goal to get a quote to a customer or prospect as quickly as possible? If yes, then forwarding an insurer quote onto a prospect is just fine.

In essence, this is living to the idea of the, "broker distribution model." Brokers distributing policies on behalf of insurance companies.

Is this sustainable in today's environment?

Distributors or suppliers?

Think about the oft touted examples of Amazon, Uber, Netflix, Airbnb and Google. As the narrative goes, these are distributors who "did it better." Yes, they disrupted incumbent suppliers using technology. But each of these companies has two things that are hard to duplicate in most industries, especially insurance: size and scale. 

Still, I don't look at them as distributors. They're suppliers. Suppliers of customers. They've flipped the business model and put the customer at the heart of every interaction.

It's a supplier mindset. They might not be making the product, but they're supplying something much more valuable to the ones who do: the customer. 

Brokers as suppliers.

Many brokers are thinking this way. They're not distributors. They're suppliers of customers to insurers. They see customer value as more than just the commission earned from a sale. They focus relentlessly on the customer experience and ensuring that their internal systems support this customer focus.

In most business models, the first ones to suffer when disruption happens are the distributors. This is happening right now to brokers. All the pieces are converging that are going to challenge the notion of brokers as distributors of insurance policies. Being a "better distributor" seems like an undesirable arms race.

So the question is, are you a supplier or a distributor?

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Topics: Commercial_lines, digital, data, analytics