THE INSURANCE Brokers Association of Manitoba is working with the province’s regulator to gain professional development accreditation.
The association currently requires Insurance Council of Manitoba approval for professional development programming and the brokers want to add more speed to the process.
“For us to put on professional development, we have to send details to ICM, which needs to be approved, which takes time and is slowing us down a little bit,” IBAM ceo Grant Wainikka said.
“We are looking for approval like many other bodies across Manitoba, so the benefit of the doubt is given to us and what (education) we are providing is relevant and current.”
He said there is some work to be done before that approval is granted but both parties are committed to a solution.
“The relationship has been very positive,” Mr. Wainikka said. “There are issues to overcome and we are working our way through them.”
He said working with Manitoba Public Insurance is also a priority for IBAM this year.
“One of the unique things about vehicle insurance in Manitoba is that we do have a public insurer and we have to renegotiate terms of business with them, whether that be service level expectations, management of customer privacy records . . . or commission levels (and) that is all done between our association and MPI directly,” Mr. Wainikka said. “Our relationship with MPI is extremely important.”
He said that relationship has added importance in light of MPI’s appointment of a new ceo.
Benjamin Graham, Australian expat and former head of risk at QBE Insurance Asia Pacific, took the helm at MPI Feb. 1. He replaced Dan Guimond, who had been with the Crown corporation for nearly 30 years, with three years in the top job.
Mr. Wainikka said relationship-building has been a central part of his role since assuming his post Jan. 2.
And his background in politics fits that objective, he said.
“I have a history of working in the political realm (and) as far as political advocacy, I hope I can offer a lot,” Mr. Wainikka said. “I have close relationships, particularly withthose in our provincial government and I hope that can be leveraged and help insurance brokers from a regulatory standpoint.”
Mr. Wainikka is also a former telecommunications industry executive, but his interest in the broker channel is homegrown.
“I grew up in a household where my dad was a broker,” he said. “It’s familiar to me and I understand some of the opportunities and challenges that brokers go through.”
He said challenges to the industry, such as rising consumer demands for service and communication, can provide opportunities for brokers.
“(When) businesses can get in front of those trends . . . they can outpace their competitors,” Mr. Wainikka said.
He said technology seems to be accelerating change within the industry, mainly increasing customer expectation.
“Whether a customer is being served digitally or over the counter I think (service) expectations are rising and I’m happy to say that . . . customers in Manitoba that deal with insurance brokers are pleased.”
He said communication and technology also came up at the insurance executives’ panel at IBAM’s annual convention in Winnipeg late last month.
“Brokers in large part are looking for clear commitment from insurance companies and carriers that they value and are going to continue to use the broker channel and grow their presence with the broker channel,” he said.
“Happily they did hear that at our convention.”
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