Company: KTX Insurance Brokers
Principal Broker: Sean Graham
Year Founded: 2002
# of Employees: 25
Public or Private: Private
Insurance companies have long offered online quoting portals for their brokers. In 1999, recognizing that there was nothing similar available for the general public, former Canada Life executives Gregory Ellis and George Small founded Kanetix Limited, Canada’s first online insurance marketplace, to “put the tool in the hands of the consumer,” says Sean Graham, principal broker at KTX. But unlike in the UK and the US, there were no online brokerages in Canada at the time. KTX Insurance Brokers was formed in 2002 as a subsidiary of Kanetix to capitalize on this opportunity.
The brokerage started small, with just two insurer partners, but now works with 22 companies in Ontario and Alberta.
From its beginnings as a one-man operation, the brokerage has grown to currently employ 25 people in its Toronto and Hamilton offices. But KTX has no plans of stopping there. “The vision for KTX, from Day One, has always been to go Canada-wide,” says Graham. KTX began doing business in Alberta in 2007 and is looking to expand into Quebec, Saskatchewan and British Columbia before eventually opening nation wide.
Reasons to Watch
Graham believes strongly that the Internet is the way of the future for insurance brokers and that the market is close to a tipping point. “Today, it’s the early adopters who are buying [insurance] online, but in the next five years it’s going to be mainstream,” he says. As Canada’s first online brokerage, KTX has seen incredible growth. “We’ve seen double-digit growth in each of the last five years,” says Graham. “The majority of that growth has been personal lines, but in the last five years, our commercial [lines] has been growing at a quicker rate than our personal lines book,” he says, pointing out that commercial lines now account for 9.6% of KTX’s business, compared to 6.3% in December 2011.
KTX launched its consumer-facing commercial property quoter in September 2007—another first for Canada, according to Graham.
“Today, it’s the early adopters who are buying insurance online, but in the next five years it’s going to be mainstream.”
–Sean Graham, principal broker
In March of 2012, KTX launched a consumer-facing individually-rated commercial auto quoter in partnership with SGI. “This is the first time in Canada that consumers can go online and get a quote for their work vehicle,” says Graham. “Our clients are really looking for competitive pricing and a quick and easy way to purchase commercial lines insurance.”
Though it’s only been available for a few months, Graham says business is booming. “It’s sustainable and we need to staff up for it. Right now, we actually can’t handle the amount of business we’re getting.”
One of the biggest hurdles for KTX is client retention. “We’re finding that we have to do more to retain our clients than most brokers would,” says Graham. “We need to offer additional services, such as a mobile app, which we have. We need to extend our hours of services from 8 am to 8 pm; we need to be open on Saturdays. And of course, we need to entertain change requests or service requests through our website—at all hours of the day.”
Like most other brokerages, finding the right talent for the job is also a challenge for KTX. “We’re not finding the skills that we need to grow our specific business, in terms of communication skills and technological skills,” says Graham. “One way we’re overcoming that is by forging a relationship with Mohawk College. We go out every year and recruit their graduating students and that’s been successful for us.”
One of Graham’s goals for 2012 was to add three more insurer partners to KTX’s offering—and the company has already added two. SGI signed on with KTX in March and this summer Gore Mutual joined as a partner. Graham says it’s important that KTX continue to expand the number of partners they work with to broaden their product offering, especially for commercial lines. Graham is currently in talks with three other potential partners.
Copyright 2012 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the July/August 2012 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.