Commentary: A Backstabbing Insurance Industry

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By Dr Neil Gosine

I write this commentary from the point of view of the brokerage industry and the so-called perception within the insurance brokers fraternity where brokers pretend to support and help each other but behind the scenes are really cutting each other’s throats and bad-mouthing the smaller brokers to get ahead.

To prevent their fellow brokers from getting business on the market, the larger brokers try to prevent the smaller to medium-sized brokers from getting any large accounts or the coveted state business by belittling their capabilities in a perverse manner.

They use dirty tactics and bullying attacks on insurers and board members to paint a portrait of public perception that the smaller or medium-sized brokers are incapable of doing the job properly.

They do this because they have had the business for decades and they believe they own the larger accounts.

The motives of the individuals within the particular brokerage firms are selfish, self-centered and diverge from the activity or intent of what the fraternity stands for especially the Insurance Brokers Association of Trinidad and Tobago (IBATT).

Nothing is wrong for a larger broker to try to maintain their accounts especially the state accounts but every couple of years the state accounts go up for open tender and the holding broker uses unfair tactics to prevent those insurance companies from quoting to the other brokers. This is where we are destroying each other.

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What they are really doing is destroying the fabric of the industry and are really showing their true colours of greed and excessive desire to accumulate larger profits at the cost of the insurance industry.

They pretend to support the fraternity and their competing brokers in the industry but what they are really doing is backstabbing their competitors at any cost.

We know that businesses normally operate around a goal or a mission.

The individuals involved in the brokerage insurance business in our market often have different purely selfish motives engaging in activities of the business to block or denigrate their competitors to ensure they win out against their competitors.

Because of this, the actual fraternity suffers as it’s all a facade. In one room like the IBATT, they present to care about the industry and pretend to support their competitors in what’s taking place in the market, yet the activities of their business behind the scenes paint a different story.

This is done through their networks which are basically spreading misinformation and using fear-based methods to block their competitors.

This has become a well-known hidden secret within the fraternity and why insurance brokers mistrust other insurance brokers. Insurance companies use this well-known secret against the brokers and the larger brokers use their business with their large portfolios to threaten insurance companies to bend them to their will and make them do what they want.

What makes it worse is that certain insurance companies in the market are so weak that they fall for this manipulation. They are willing to do anything these larger brokers say to maintain their business. This is where we are failing in the industry through personal fears of not having enough, and our ego where these larger brokers feel they command the power to keep state accounts perpetually. Their greed of wanting to have more than others, can be considered like the “proximate cause” that triggers the use of dirty tricks to hold onto an account.

This method of doing business has continued behind the scenes with these larger insurance brokers for years and this happens when you only value the end result instead of proper business practices and having respect for your fraternity.

In our industry we are bombarded by rules, and ethics at all levels especially at the individual level and business level as the cornerstone of our industry is “utmost good faith” but in reality, this is pushed aside because of the bottom line.

Behaviour that you would believe to be unthinkable is being practised in the name of profits. The persons in the industry that practice these behaviours are shielded from personal responsibility by the companies they do business with or the power they wield in the industry.

If we continue like this we will have a definite succession problem in the brokerage industry. This is why competing brokers do not trust each other, they know the games they play.

Where the goal is to destroy your competitors at any cost, consume as much business as you can, instead of operating to ensure the continued existence and functioning of our industry. Yes, I understand that the business needs profits. But enough is surely enough, right? Nope. Not when it’s composed of these larger powerful brokers who feel that they own all the state accounts on the market. Things don’t work like that. Well, it should not work like that, not typically.

Neil Gosine is an insurance executive. He is also the treasurer of the UNC and a former chairman of the National Petroleum Marketing Company of Trinidad and Tobago. He holds a Doctorate in Business Administration, a Master’s in Business Administration MBA, BSC in Mathematics and a BA in Administrative Studies. The views and comments expressed in this column are not necessarily those of AZP News, a Division of Complete Image Limited.


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