The year was 2009. The place: Miramichi, NB. Seven well-established independent business people – all insurance brokers - from different corners of the province came together with the idea of sharing thoughts and ideas on how to “do insurance better”. A loosely-knit “peer group”, or rag tag “think tank”, if you will. Those were the humble beginnings of what would soon become much more.
A rather tame round of discussions around how to improve “office workflows” quickly evolved into passionate debates about the future of insurance in the Maritime towns and cities in which we live and work. Why are small, local insurance brokers selling to big national and international conglomerates? Is there a way to keep those businesses – with their jobs and profits – here in our local communities? How do the “little guys” compete in this digital age, where it seems the corporations with the biggest budget seem to end up at the top of Google and top-of-mind with consumers (ever hear of that “Geico” company)?
We knew in our hearts and minds that local insurance brokers had the best value proposition out there. I mean, what person would prefer to buy insurance from a lad with potentially 6 hours of training and a script working out of call center out in Timbuctoo, when you could be talking to a local seasoned insurance professional right down the street in your hometown of Fredericton! We are, after all, talking about protecting your home, cars, business, and the financial well-being of your family in case of illness or death here! So, that leads to the questions; how can we “little guys” cut through the noise and get the word out? How do we afford to compete with the “big boys” in the online world? How can a group of small business owners realistically expect to sit down with big insurance companies to negotiate better rates and products for their clients?
Did somebody in the room say: “Pooled resources”?! (OK, so maybe it was more like: “If we teamed up, I bet we could really kick some butt!!). Strength in numbers… a novel idea! Next thing you know, we’re looking at the additional buying power to buy-out other local brokers looking to retire who want a “regional” alternative. We suddenly also have the collective time and resources to develop a digital presence and branding that rivals our largest national and international competitors. Now we just need a name… Who was talking about that quirky name that was brought up earlier… GoToInsure.ca?... pretty catchy!
So, here we are, almost 7 years later, with 20 locations to date and no intentions of slowing down. All our offices are owned by Atlantic Canadians who are licensed insurance brokers and actively involved in the day-to-day operations (we call that having “skin in the game”)! In our relatively short history, we’ve already seen a couple partners retire, and have brought a few more into the fold to ensure that this thing keeps on going into perpetuity. Locally owned and operated forever, because that’s how we think it should be!
So, what’s next for GoToInsure.ca… stay tuned!
Written by: Marc Leger