& Casualty insurer that sells its policies through the independent broker channel. With an eye toward helping those
brokers prepare for the future, Gore Mutual also keeps track
of the evolution of distribution channels.
Gore Mutual decided to delve into the online distribution channel by launching uBiz, an online tool that brokers
can use to sell small commercial coverage to home-based
“A number of issues converged and we took steps to
build the uBiz platform,” says Sean Christie, CIO and vice
president of information services at Gore Mutual. “We
think we have delivered it in a way that is unique to the
distribution marketplace. It is a direct play, but we have
brought our broker/partners in. They do a lot of the mar-
keting and social media campaigns to bring people to their
individual website and we have done some marketing to
help build the uBiz brand.”
When companies make changes as dramatic as this, they
normally work with their top broker partners, but Chris-
tie pointed out Gore Mutual went a different route. The
carrier chose to first work with brokers who had a strong
understanding of the digital marketplace and how to source
customers through that.
“We partnered with them for a period of time to test,
evaluate, and see what we all learned from the project,”
says Christie. “It was experimental for us. We picked (the
brokers) for their digital presence and any expertise in social
marketing. We would have been the ones to do all the mar-
keting work, otherwise.”
The carrier has been replacing legacy systems for the
last few years and the commercial lines platform came first.
Duck Creek provides Gore Mutual’s policy system and
Christie points out the system offered a cloud presence and
extended Gore Mutual’s rating capabilities beyond the cur-
rent infrastructure, which was part of the convergence that
enabled the insurer to launch the uBiz platform.
Potential policyholders can go to the website for uBiz
( www.u-biz.com) and gather information. If they want a
quote, they go to the quote page and they will be taken directly to one of the broker/partner sites.
From there they go through a simple process with eight
to 10 questions and, based on their responses, Gore Mutual
will be able to determine what the rate would be for that
business, according to Christie. If the customer remains
interested, they go to the application page and answer some
general underwriting questions and bind the policy.
“Depending on the class of business, there might be more
pop-up questions,” says Christie. “Some risks don’t fit uBiz
and if the customer trips over one of them it directs them to
the broker/partner, where they might be able to find another
policy that would fit them better.”
Gore Mutual also writes home and auto coverage, but
the insurer felt home-based businesses was an under-served
market. Company surveys showed many potential customers
were under-insured or not insured at all.
“We wanted to target those businesses,” says Christie.
This has been an experimental program for Gore Mutual
and the commercial lines policy is the first product the
carrier brought to market. The company is working on other
products for the future, but will stay on the commercial lines
side for the time being, to determine how to play in this
space along with their broker/partners.
The uBiz platform went live in October, 2015 and the
initial build took about six months.
“That wasn’t a long time to take it from paper to produc-
tion,” says Christie. “We had been using some of the technol-
ogy already. It’s been almost a year at this point, and we are
happy with the traffic we are seeing and how we have grown
in this space. We also are pleased with how our business
partners worked together with us to make this a successful
There have been tweaks to the product and how Gore
Mutual has marketed in this space, but nothing dramatic,
according to Christie.
“The things we thought we would run into were there
and the things we thought would work well have played
out,” he says. “We had a business case plan for this and it has
allowed us to do a couple of things in different ways as we
learned how the channel evolves. uBiz is a big part of our
strategy going forward and we have other capabilities for the
future we can build.”
Gore Mutual hopes to bring out new products early next
year and the next release will look at functionality.
“The site right now is a way to sell, market, and bind the policy,” says Christie. “Now we need to think about the lifecycle of
the policy—if the customer wants to add on things—so we are
looking at functionality to help from that perspective.” ITA
Canadian insurance carrier expands its distribution options without
disenfranchising its broker/partners.