Ensurco is focused on decreasing its carbon footprint, while keeping customer service the number 1 priority
In 1985, Ray Faraone, Vic Coulter and Marilyn Brady launched Brady, Coulter & Faraone–Brady was set to retire in two years and Coulter in six, making Faraone their succession plan.
“Marilyn and Vic each had approximately 25 years experience in the business,” says Faraone. “It took a lot of convincing on my part [but] the timing was perfect.”
Faraone was fresh on the insurance scene, having recently graduated from Toronto’s York University, and learned a lot from his senior partners. Eventually, Brady retired and Faraone’s brother, Carlo, joined the firm in 1989. With the departure of Coulter in 1991, the two brothers took over. Now, after several changes in name and brand, the Markham, Ont.-based brokerage stands solid as Ensurco Insurance Group Inc., and has grown to 55 employees.
Ask Faraone why the brokerage decided to go paperless, and the answer isn’t the typical one that includes saving the environment. Instead, Faraone’s reason is much simpler and more sincere.
“We used to operate from a 2,000 square foot office and it got to the point where we were running out of wall space for our files,” he says. “In 2004, we decided that we either build more wall space, or go paperless. So we went paperless and the rest is history.”
Initially, the firm considered transactional filing (where client transactions are filed electronically by date and hard copy) as a solution, but quickly dismissed the idea.
“We felt there were too many problems with transactional filing because if you need to find one specific client file, you have to search through the date we received it and then find the hard copy to locate it. We bypassed this method and went straight to scanning customer information directly onto the customer screen.”
Ensurco uses the Power Broker broker management system. It requires employees to scan and attach all documents directly to the customer screen, which is stored electronically in a database. Once the file is saved, the hard copy is shredded and recycled. This method is used for both personal and commercial lines, and allows brokers to search by customer name instead of transaction date.
Additionally, all faxes are received electronically and attached to the client screen and, according to Faraone, about 99% of client correspondence is via email.
“We encourage our staff to print documents only if absolutely necessary,” he says. “With respect to personal lines, we’ve asked our companies to stop sending us paper transactions.”
With the success of this initiative, Ensurco decided to take the next step with the technology. The brokerage is now involved in a pilot project with P&C insurer Gore Mutual, using Gore’s new Quick Connection platform. Quick Connection allows Ensurco clients to access their policies online via a secure web portal. For example, if a commercial client is concerned about the value of one of their buildings, they can simply log on 24/7 to retrieve this information. Clients can also choose to receive renewals and policy endorsements electronically.
“I’m so excited with the potential this technology offers both us and our clients,” says Faraone. “It’s fast, convenient, and fits in well with busy schedules. It allows clients that may not have time during the day to take care of insurance on their terms and on their time.”
Challenges and Solutions
In addition to the usual challenges of achieving growth, maintaining profitability and recruiting good staff, Faraone says one of the greatest challenges is competing with direct writers, specifically the banks. Ensurco is dealing with this threat by looking at company processes and eliminating duplication.
“We know the broker channel is by far the best solution for clients,” he says. “But, if we’re to compete with other delivery systems that are out there and readily available to clients, it’s imperative we find ways to reduce costs in the delivery process, which in turn will make our insurer partners that much more efficient. The more efficient they are, the better equipped we are to compete with the ‘directs’ head-on.”
Faraone says the Quick Connection solution allows them to offer choice, service, enhanced advice and flexibility to compete with direct writers.
© Copyright 2010 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the September 2010 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.