Wawanesa Joins Risky Business

A leader in the insurance and risk management space, Wawanesa joins the podcast as a sponsor. Along with Butler Byers, Wawanesa leads the industry with unique, step-by-step risk assessment program.

Listen to the podcast here, or see the full transcript below.


Wawanesa Officially Added as a Sponsor

Paul Martin: Welcome to Risky Business, Commercial Insurance with Butler Byers. This is Paul Martin a business commentator here on CKLM, and once again we’re back talking with Colin Rooke the commercial risk reduction specialist with Butler Byers Commercial Insurance, talking about all things commercial insurance, but more specifically his step-by-step risk assessment program. I guess this thing is catching on by the sounds of it. We’ve got some kind of news to announce today. Maybe I’ll just turn it over to you. What’s the big story here?

Colin Rooke: Sure, so we officially have sponsors. You know we’ve been at it, I think what? Two – two and a half years. The show has caught on and I’m happy to announce that Wawanesa Insurance, a company that we work with very regularly, I guess both on the personal line side and the commercial side, has officially come onboard. So thank you to Wawanesa Insurance for supporting.

Paul Martin: Well not only that, it’s a great feather in your cap I think, because obviously you’re doing some pioneering work here in the industry. This approach; you’re step-by-step risk assessments program is distinct, it’s unique, it’s proprietary to you. You guys have created this thing. You’ve taken it to market, so here we are two-three-four years later and you always made the argument, Colin, when we’re sitting at this microphone that the whole point of the exercise here is so I can do a better job of telling the story of my client, my prospective client, take their story to the insurance company and say, “You need to understand all the good things that this company and my client is doing.” Wawanesa signing on to be with us on this program suggests maybe you’re getting some traction on that. They’re actually hearing what you’re saying.

The reason why they’re such a great partner is that they are one of the largest insurers in Canada. They are an insurer that genuinely listens. They’re aware of what we do and how we do it, and partnering with us on this program just shows their support of that.

Colin Rooke: Yeah you know the reason why they’re such a great partner in this case is, they are one of the largest insurers in Canada. They are an insurer that genuinely listens. They’re aware of what we do and how we do it, and partnering with us on this program just shows their support of that. That if you work on telling the story, if you formulate a risk management plan and you share that with the insurance market, great things can happen. You know, as you mentioned, kind of hats of to us, but it just shows that it’s what we do is important. It’s really important to, of course, our clients, and it’s really important to the industry for a company like Wawanesa to say, “Yeah I want to be a part of this. I’m going to tie my name. We believe in what you’re doing. We believe in the results. We believe in proactive risk management.” And it shows that it’s working.

Paul Martin: Yeah I get that, but I just want to make sure that we don’t sort of undersell or under estimate what you’ve achieved here. You yourself as well. I mean from this chair, as I’ve been sitting here listening to you for the last couple of years, it just strikes me that what you’re doing is changing an industry, and obviously that is not something that comes over night. So here we are two years into to it and one of the major insurers in the country has stepped up and said, “Okay we’ll buy that story. We concur. We’re willing to put our name and reputation and money behind that.”

Colin Rooke: Yeah good point. You know we have essentially changed the way commercial insurance is bought, and as we’ve referenced in earlier shows, we’ve spent an awful lot of our time explaining our process. It’s not overly difficult to explain, but it’s so unique, and if you’re dealing with a seasoned buyer, they’ve only heard the presentation one way. You know I’d like to quote your business, I think I can save you some money. And to take a step back and say, we’re going to do things different. We’re going work on risk first. We’re going to focus on service. We’re going to learn more about our clients, and we’re going to tell that story. I mean that’s how this all started, and it’s really expanded from there. Yeah to receive recognition for the work we’ve done, it just shows that we are changing the game so to speak.

Paul Martin: This game has been fairly traditional too hasn’t it? I mean offline you and I will talk about this a little bit and you’ll say, sometime you’ll win over a new account and the old carrier, or the old broker will phone you and say, “What did I do wrong?” They just don’t kind of get it. They’re still living in a former sort of approach to things.

Colin Rooke: Yeah you know, even right in my licensing courses they refer to insurance as a relationship business. You want to reach out to those who you have a relationship with. It’s a lot of trust and you want to position yourself that, if you’ve been with a broker, or if your prospect has been with a broker awhile that, if there’s a problem they’ll think of you first. And our industry has really operated that way for a long time, and it’s a close, tight knit community, but again, we’re not out there trying to undercut the competition. We just look at the value that we could bring, or really should be bringing, and said, okay if we start with that first; and as I’ve always said, insurance is only one of the tools in our toolkit. But if we start with the value proposition, if we look at our clients as a whole and say, there’s a lot of moving parts here, there’s a lot of risk, we can insure some of those, most we can’t.

Colin Rooke: Why don’t we formulate our conversations around just risk in general, not looking at the company through the eyes of the insurance policy and only highlighting those risks that I can sell insurance policy to financially transfer?

Think 10X, Not 10%

Paul Martin: I think the argument you’ve made is, we’ve talked about this before, is that traditional approach, if I can use that, the sort of stayed, let’s just look at the policy and tinker with what’s there. You can perhaps save a customer or a client 2-3% by switching carriers or something, but if you use your step-by-step program, you’ve had experience where you’ve moved premiums by as much of a reduction of 30-40-50%. It’s just quantum leaps in terms of change by using this new approach.

Colin Rooke: Well if you think about it, if you’re a commercial underwriter and a broker is asking for some savings, where is the evidence? What have they done that warrants this? Like why should I do that? Especially when you’re ultimately being judged on the performance of your book of business, being the underwriter. So first and foremost, they’re trying to avoid claims. So again, you maybe want the business, maybe for now in the loss history has been great, and that’s how a lot of good accounts get judged as good is loss history, you know you’ll do something. But if you don’t have a plan, a real argument; imagine going into the court of law and just saying, my client is not guilty. I don’t really want to say why, but take my word for it, he’s not guilty, with no argument.  And really the work we do, the work that Wawanesa Insurance is recognizing that we do, it is that argument. It’s making a presentation, a saving’s presentation I’ll call it, and we present our clients that way.

Paul Martin: And that’s fundamentally the different approach.

Colin Rooke: Exactly.

Paul Martin: It’s about, just give me a couple of numbers and tell my what your buildings are valued at, but actually let’s dig into the way your business operates and what kind of unseen risks are out there too.

Colin Rooke: Well and again, take something like sexual harassment. You can purchase a policy to protect your organization against claims, but we take it a step further and we say, well let’s talk about it. Tell me about your organization. What steps are you taking to avoid this? Do you have a human resources department? Do you outsource? Does the management team receive sensitivity training around the subject? Is it discussed? Does the company make their position known on how they feel about sexual harassment in the workplace? When we have those answers, and then we’re asking for coverage, if we’re able to explain what we’ve learned versus, again, filling out a form talking about the organization, who are you going to bet on? The one with the compelling argument, or the one that might have a compelling argument but there was just nothing on that application to suggest that?

Paul Martin: Colin we got to take a little break. I want to pick this up in just a moment, so just stick with us if you don’t mind. You’re listening to Colin Rooke the commercial risk reduction specialist at Butler Byers Commercial Insurance. This is Risky Business. We’ll be back after this break.

Paul Martin: Welcome back to Risky Business Commercial Insurance with Butler Byers. This is Paul Martin, and as always, I’m talking with Colin Rooke, the commercial risk reduction specialist with Butler Byers, and at the top of the show, Colin, we announced, or you announced that Wawanesa Insurance has stepped up to become a sponsor of this particular program, largely because of the nature of the approach that you guys have been taking in bringing business, potential business to them. But just really, in a way, kind of changing the way commercial insurance … The commercial insurance business is gathered up right now, and I’m curious about what Wawanesa told you. Why did they sign on? What was the compelling argument for them?

Colin Rooke: You know, from a risk management perspective … A lot of our discussions were around this topic, and they’ve listened to this show, I’ve explained sort of the strategy behind it, where the show’s going. I mean, they feel that what we’re doing is great for the industry, and not that I’m trying to tell all of our competitors to mimic what we do, but you can learn something from this show, and they said, “Okay, well as an industry, if we’re focusing on improving … “

Colin Rooke: I mean, they want to tie their name to an organization that’s thinking that way, and so again, they wanted to be part of something that’s different, and I believe the way we work is quite different. I mean, I know it is, and the results are there, and so if it’s good for Butler Byers, and it’s good for our partnership with Wawanesa, it’s ultimately going to be for the insurance industry as a whole. Quite frankly, the more clients that are working on risk, the more clients that are making risk managed-based decisions, the better for the insurance industry, and I think they wanted to be a part of that.

Paul Martin: I think it’d be fair for me to ask this question, so I’ll put it to you. Is Wawanesa treating Butler Byers in a favorable manner, or your customers, as a consequence of this, or is there a special relationship, if I can use that, or a special rating, or …

Colin Rooke: You know, really good point. Does Wawanesa treat Butler Byers different because it’s Butler Byers? No. I believe they got into every client situation with an open book. So, we don’t have a deal with Wawanesa where we get preferable rates over the guy next door, but what they do do is listen, so we say, “Okay. I have a client. I would like to talk to you about moving their business to Wawanesa. Now, I have an application, but I’m not going to start with that; I’m going to tell you the whole story. I’m going to give you a summary, I’m going to put it in writing, and we’re also going to have a conversation.” So, does Wawanesa give Butler Byers favorable rates for being Butler Byers? No, but our clients benefit from savings because we are telling the whole story, which allows Wawanesa to charge what, I would argue, our clients should be paying. They’re just made aware of why they should be giving those discounts.


Our clients benefit from savings because we are telling the whole story.

Paul Martin: No substitute for good information.

Colin Rooke: I mean, that’s exactly it. I know that I make it sound easy; it isn’t. But this is all premised around tell the whole story, put in the work on either side. There’s a lot of work to do for the client. I mean, if we’re not there yet, I mean, we’re always presenting where we’re going with this thing, so sometimes it might not be right away, but again, when we have that plan, when we’re sharing with the insurer what we’re doing with this, where we’re going, it just … The comfort level is there. There’s a real rationale to, again, offer something more than they’re probably prepared to do.

Paul Martin: I had asked you, a couple of minutes ago, whether or not Butler Byers or your customers had a preferred access or preferred rate, if I can put it that way, with Wawanesa. Is the opposite also equally true? That they’re not the preferred, or they expect to see things first, and that you’re kind of tied to offering all of your business only to them?

Colin Rooke: No. At the core of our business, I mean, we are a broker. We’re going to place business where we see fit, and definitely, Wawanesa is one of those insurers that will get approached more often than not. But again, we’re selling our story to multiple underwriters, and we take the same approach there. So, with Wawanesa’s involvement, are we going straight to Wawanesa with every quote? No, but we’re allowing, I guess, every insurer to have the same opportunity, and I hope we have more sponsors in the future, but it just shows that they are one of the ones that will listen. It might not be a fit for your business, whether it’s … Sometimes you don’t fit the appetite, but again, when it is a fit, they’re willing to listen, and that’s what important.

Paul Martin: Well, I take from this, though, that when you have one of the underwriters, one of the big insurers or carriers step up and say, “I’m prepared to stand behind this concept that Colin advances and Butler Byers advances,” that’s a plain, straight up endorsement of the work that you’ve been doing and the approach that you’re taking, which is fundamentally changing the landscape and the way commercial insurance is acquired by a company and how it’s delivered by the industry.

Colin Rooke: I would agree. If they didn’t like the approach, if they thought it was bad for the industry, it didn’t work, they wouldn’t want to tie their name to it. I mean, it does show, again, that … To everyone listening, that they’re aware of this. If you put in the work, you will be … You’ll be treated differently, and I guess, yeah, by the sponsorship alone, it just shows that we like what Butler Byers is doing, it’s great for the client, it’s great for the insurer, and it’s great for the industry. Wawanesa is a very proactive, forward-thinking company, just like Butler Byers, and it think, again, it’s another reason why this partnership works.

Paul Martin: One of the things I’m taken by, and we’ve got, maybe a minute to talk about this, but Butler Byers is more than a century old. I mean, it’s a handful of companies in this province that have lasted more than 100 years, and you would think that somebody who’s been around 100 years is a pretty tried and true system and wouldn’t really tinker with it. In fact, the reason Butler Byers has made it 100+ years is because they have tinkered with it.

Colin Rooke: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Paul Martin: They have been prepared to try new things.

Colin Rooke: Yeah, it’s recognizing that you have to change with the times, and what worked 50 years ago doesn’t work today, and our approach is very, very different. I’ve said before we followed the traditional model for, well, probably 100 years, and we said, “We no longer feel this is right. We have a duty to our clients,” and Drew Byers says this all the time, that … I mean, we owe it to them. So, we change out of necessity, and now it’s how we operate.

Paul Martin: And as a consequence of that, being recognized by companies like Wawanesa, by them stepping up and becoming a sponsor of this program. So, I guess we want to welcome them.

Colin Rooke: Yes, yeah. Yes, thank you, Wawanesa, for joining the show.

Paul Martin: Colin, thank you very much. We’ve run out of time, as always. It just sort of scooched by, but you’ve been listening to Colin Rooke, the commercial risk reduction specialist with Butler Byers Commercial Insurance. I’m Paul Martin. Thanks for joining us for Risky Business Commercial Insurance with Butler Byers.