STAFF WRITER – The Ontario Construction Report Special Feature
Trisura has pioneered in developing a user friendly electronic portal, designed to make it easier for brokers to support their clients and to process commercial and surety bonds that would otherwise be uneconomical to transact.
Pina Mazzoli, Tisura’s vice president, commercial surety, said the underwriter has switched to a “paperless” model for all of its commercial surety business – and the portal is very flexible.
“It has enhanced functionality in how our brokers use it,” she said. “They can choose to do the entire transaction themselves on behalf of their clients, or they can hand off the application process – allowing their clients to complete their applications themselves and pay for the transaction in real time.”
Mazzoli said Trisura values its broker relationships and doesn’t want to interfere with the way brokers interact with their clients. The portal is designed to enhance the broker client relationship by creating efficiencies and ease of doing business for all parties involved.
The system allows brokers to leverage relationships for higher volume and low margin surety product sales, the types they would either accommodate as a loss leader for existing clients, or avoid because the servicing costs would far exceed the potential revenue they could earn.
“The broker has working authority of $100,000 for classes of business we offer through the portal,” she said. “That covers most transactions where there are few claims and innocuous obligations, such as license and permit bonds, customs and tax bonds and Quebec contractors’ license bonds,” she said.
As well, Trisura is preparing to expand its surety portal capacity for smaller contractor bonds, which would have been prohibitively expensive to underwrite previously.
In these situations, the contractors will provide their financial statements and answer other questions online and the system will check credit and other aspects automatically, approving the application if all is in order, or responding with further questions or requests for documentation.
“We expect we’ll be able to eliminate manual underwriting here,” she said. Brokers will, of course, be able to serve their smaller contractors effectively and work with them as their businesses grow.
Mazzoli said Trisura currently conducts about 35 per cent of its commercial surety business through the portal. The underwriter expects that with enhancements, the online service will be able to accommodate 80 to 90 per cent of its business.
For sureties, this will often convert a process that takes weeks to complete into a simple and speedy system. “Before, with paper and wet seals and signatures, the process would take up to several days to several weeks,” she said. “With the portal, we’ve condensed that into a 10- minute process with, in many cases, the bond signed, sealed, and ready to be sent.”
The new system will allow brokers to negotiate agreements with associations to sell large quantities of inexpensive and easy to administer bonds. “Brokers could generate significant revenue through a single program, at no additional cost.”
The bonds meanwhile can be managed through their lifecycle through the online portal. “Bonds can be renewed, endorsed and cancelled, all through the portal,” she said.
The platform has been designed to evolve and can be updated as new technologies and services are introduced.
Through everything, she said the portal has been designed to reflect brokers’ interests.
“The broker is our primary client,” she said. “We want to be very sensitive to maintain that through the platform we’ve built. The client is theirs, and they (the brokers) can choose how they want to transact with their own clients.”
Pina Mazzoli is Trisura’s vice-president, commercial surety.