TIWA Says Engaging Professionals and Adapting to Technology Are Biggest Challenges for Toronto Insurance Market
By becoming a corporate sponsor of TIWA, Shop Insurance Canada is supporting the non-for-profit association and its ethos of promoting equality and ethical standards in the insurance industry. The Toronto Insurance Women's Association was founded in 1960 and focuses on bringing high-quality services to the industry.
A fixture in the Ontario insurance industry for 50 years, TIWA is well-placed to offer expert opinion on the state of insurance in Toronto and Ontario. Shop Insurance Canada interviewed the association on subjects ranging from engaging young professionals, the challenges of technology, and how TIWA gives insurance professionals a leading support network:
Some of our readers may not be familiar with TIWA. Can you give them a brief introduction into what the association does?
The Toronto Insurance Women's Association (TIWA) was established in 1960 and was the insurance industry's first professional networking association created solely for women. At a time when career opportunities for women within insurance were predominantly limited to clerical positions, the organization aimed to provide women with a platform to support one another on their path toward professional advancement in a male-dominated industry. As both TIWA and the insurance industry has evolved over the years, the membership demographic has expanded and is now inclusive to everyone in the insurance industry. The core vision and values, however, have not changed. TIWA strives to support members on their path toward personal and professional growth by offering networking and educational opportunities that help them achieve their goals.
The Toronto Insurance Women's Association has been working in city since 1960. The group has seen the industry change dramatically over those decades. Is the insurance sector facing its biggest challenge in the face of disruptive technology?
Absolutely, as would be the case for any traditional industry operating in excess of 100 years. Many of our members can certainly attest to the significant changes and technological advancements that have influenced the way the insurance industry functions. We have come a long way from the days of pre-personal computing and binding insurance policies by hand, and the industry as a whole has seen a significant shift as a result of the adaptation and evolution of technology. As we enter an era where the pace of business is in a constant state of disruption, it is encouraging to see the insurance industry, particularly many property and casualty insurance carriers, embracing the advancements of the insurance tech space and investing in startups. This is not only modernizing the way traditional insurers function as organizations, but also reinventing the customer experience. Increasingly, insurance related organizations are looking to the Toronto/Kitchener-Waterloo tech corridor to establish ventures that explore new industry innovations. This is truly an exciting time to be involved in the insurance space.
Numerous recent studies have shown that engaging young professionals for a career in insurance is hard, even if the industry presents an attractive opportunity for growth. Is it difficult to attract young female professionals to insurance? Is that something TIWA has seen in Toronto?
Difficulty recruiting young professionals is certainly something we have seen in Toronto, and within the insurance industry as a whole. Fostering a discussion around this topic was incredibly important to TIWA and as such we held a speaking panel last fall with millennial insurance professionals, from a variety of insurance organizations, exploring this very issue. The feedback shared was quite consistent with the challenges faced on the sales and distribution (consumer marketing) side of the insurance business. A fundamental shift in the perception of insurance is necessary to not only attract our next generation of employees, but also our future customers.
Why is TIWA a good platform for women in insurance in Toronto? Can you talk a little bit about the events the association organizes?
TIWA is an excellent platform for insurance professionals who are looking to continue their professional development either by attending our exclusive educational seminars or by volunteering on our committees or executive board. We afford our members and guests with highly curated networking and educational events, typically with a charitable component that allows all involved to not only enjoy the company of fellow industry professionals, but also contribute to various non-profit causes. As an association, we are fortunate to be known for organizing some of the largest insurance industry events - our annual Wine & Cheese reception typically hosts nearly 1000 attendees from across Canada. Throughout the year we program topical educational seminars for all our members and guests to stay informed on the ever changing insurance landscape. Information on all our events can be found on our website and we are presently working on our summer networking event.
Do you think the high cost of auto insurance in the GTA region is the fault of insurance companies, governments, or both?
The nature of the GTA as a sprawling, highly populated Metropolis is a major reason for higher insurance premiums, however there are a multitude of underwriting factors that are considered when an automobile insurance premium is calculated for a customer. Assigning the responsibility of market pricing to private insurance companies and government regulators alone would not be an accurate depiction of the higher cost of auto insurance in the GTA.
The FSCO will be replaced by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA). Does TIWA see this as a step in the right direction for the insurance market in Ontario?
As an industry, we are eagerly anticipating how FSRA will be implemented as there is still a great deal yet to be seen as the regulator is still in the early stages of inception. Given the rapid pace of change within the current insurance landscape, having a regulator that is prepared to address the challenges of new insurance models in an agile capacity would allow all insurance professionals to better meet the needs of their consumers. The insurance industry has been fortunate to have strong representation from industry stakeholders in the early mandate discussions with the provincial government that led to the recommendation of the creation of the FSRA. We hope the province continues to engage the insurance industry to shape the future of the FSRA in a capacity that is beneficial for all insurance professionals and consumers.
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