Keywords and phrases are useful reference points, but how do they shape how the insurance market develops

There’s no doubt that Canada has a strong, engaged and energetic insurance market. The personal lines market has had to deal with the potential on-going effects of climate change and stands now at the edge of reforms that would usher in a new era of “consumerisation”.

Does everyone in that market move at the same pace? No. Does everyone need to move at the same pace? No. There are many moving parts and facets within the market that can and should adapt at their own speed, and that is entirely right and healthy.

However, at certain times, it seems like everyone latches “en masse” onto certain buzzwords and phrases that represent something “we must all do”, either without truly understanding what they mean, what benefit they might bring or whether they are appropriate at all.

Yet they are used interchangeably in the media and at industry events to represent something that we should all strive to include in our daily business lives, lest the entire industry will wither and die. 

Keep the focus

How is it that we seem to get so fixated on the latest “thing”? From an industry that has survived many challenges on such a grand scale, we still seem to get distracted by the “punctuation”, rather than focus on the narrative of what is unfolding in front of our eyes.

The current clutch of buzzwords includes “The Internet of Things” (IoT), “Big Data” and “insurtech” to name just a few.

It’s impossible to define what each of those means in the context of “the whole insurance market”, or their relevance across even the various classes of insurance, let alone to the individual product lines within them or to the brokers, agents and producers at the front line.

It is how freely those buzzwords are incorporated into our daily vocabulary and then reinforced as all being of equal and vital importance that should concern us and cause pause for thought. 

Clarity out of confusion

The truth is that the market is actually a collection of multiple personalities and, yes, personality disorders. That means that the best course of treatment for each has to be tailored individually. As a result, the interchangeable use of buzzwords across the entire industry is distracting and confusing and, if the health and wellbeing of each of the personalities is to prosper, fails to represent the best interest of the insurance market as a whole.

Let’s take a step back, look at what the narrative of the circumstances is telling us, and then decide which “thing” is going to help the most.

Or, as Mark Twain once said when submitting an unpunctuated manuscript to his publishers:

“Gentlemen: .,?!()”—*’ .. Please scatter these throughout according to your taste.”


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