Brokers Must Work Together to Survive Disruptive Technology

Published: October 20, 2016

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



Disruptive technologies that threaten the auto insurance industry can only be navigated if insurance brokers work together, suggested the keynote speaker at an event in Toronto on Wednesday. Jim Harris was the lead speaker at the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO) annual convention when he said brokers who compete against each other are getting it wrong.

“If you all think each other are the competition, Brokerlink will continue to pick you off one at a time. You are not the competition to each other. It’s only when you change the mindset and see everyone here being on your team, that can profoundly change this industry.”

Harris is the former head of the Green Party in Canada and has since authored the book Blindsided: How to Spot the Next Breakthrough That Will Change Your Business. Speaking at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto during the keynote of the IBAO convention, Harris showed how technology can change industry and become leading examples in a sector.

“Skype facilitates more international long distance phone calls than all of the major telcos of the world added together, but Skype doesn’t own any twisted pair of copper,” Harris noted.

“Netflix doesn’t own any cable, but on any given night in North America, 40% of the bandwidth is being consumed by Netflix.”

An easy example of how a technology can be disruptive to an existing industry is Uber, the ride-share giant that is slowly being adopted around Canada.

“The taxi industry really hasn’t understood yet that the rules of the game have changed and the only way they are going to survive is co-operation,” Harris said.

“How many taxi cab drivers have offered you sparkling water to drink?” he asked.

“Did you know, when I am in Vegas, taking a normal taxi cab, they charge me an extra US$3.50 US – that’s like 5 bucks – to put it on a credit card? And did any of you ever have this experience before, when they used to call in your credit card number? How secure is that? Every ham operator in Vegas is listening to my secret number. Right. I feel so secure.”

Uber, he added, “hasn’t changed what a taxi is. They have completely reinvented what the experience of taking a taxi is.”