Laura Jones
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Simple, But Not Simplistic | Canadian Insurance

Simple, But Not Simplistic

Small business owners wear a lot of hats on a typical workday and need straightforward insurance advice that is easy to understand

October is small business month, and small businesses make up the vast majority of the Canadian economy. For P&C insurance brokers focused on the big clients, this month is a good time to reflect on the needs of their smaller accounts and prospects.

When it comes to buying insurance, a lot of small business owners feel the way many Canadians do when we take our computers in for repairs, or our cars into the mechanic’s garage: we know it must be done, but we don’t know all the ins and outs, we feel nervous about getting a the right deal, and it isn’t at the top of our wish list of things to do for the day.

There’s no doubt that insurance for fire, theft, auto accidents, personal injuries and other unfortunate incidents is a necessary cost of doing business for Canadian entrepreneurs. Insurance that protects an organization and its employees has always been important.

That said, a flower shop will have very different insurance needs than a whitewater rafting resort. Insurance brokers provide an incredibly valuable service by really getting to know clients’ needs rather than pushing a one-size-fits-all approach to selling coverage.

It’s always important to remember that insurance is not easily understood by the general public, so it’s a good idea to keep things simple, and easy to understand. That means using plain English, taking the time to get to know your customer, and clearly identifying the services your firm can provide, how much those services will cost, and which insurance companies you will approach on their behalf.

Simple doesn’t mean simplistic, or dumbed-down. Small business owners play a number of different roles during a typical workday (sometimes including “Mom,” or “Dad,” or even “Coach”), and they are practical, common-sense people. If they know the electrical wiring is antiquated and could cause a fire, or if there’s a loose stone in the front walkway that could lead to a slip-and-fall, they’ll take action and fix any problems.

Small business owners also have the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) on their side. CFIB has worked closely with organizations such as the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada (IBAC) to help small business access insurance at reasonable costs. In fact, CFIB even created an Insurance Buying Guide for Small Business.

Much of the advice contained in the Buying Guide is basic common sense: identify and weigh your risks, report all claims promptly, implement and follow all written rules, work on becoming a coveted account to insurers and brokers, and many more. It also informs entrepreneurs that the insurance market is cyclical, with extreme swings from high to low prices, and they should periodically check their risks to ensure they aren’t over- or under-insured.

CFIB wants to help its members get the best possible deals on insurance, but we don’t take an “us-versus-them” approach to the industry. In fact, many of our members sell insurance to individuals and to other businesses. If you aren’t a member, take a minute to look at our website ( and learn about the benefits of signing up. You’ll be glad you did.

Laura Jones is executive vice president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. She can be reached at


Copyright 2012 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the October 2012 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.