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Personal advice and service within a community-focused group offering

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Personal advice and service within a community-focused group offering
Bruce Palmer, Managing Director
4/30/2016
The concept of community — a group of people sharing common interests and characteristics — is at the core of what drives OMA Insurance to create value for our members.

From an insurance perspective, we believe that physicians form a definable community — with unique needs, traits and expectations — that remains strongly connected despite the differences in medical specialty, career stage, gender or geographic location of its members.

We believe that understanding this community allows us to focus our efforts on serving you and creating value for you in many ways, including product design, business partnerships, and communication.

​ Understanding this community allows us to focus our efforts on serving you and creating value for you

Product Desi​​​gn

"Product" is what most people think of when they think of insurance. At OMA Insurance, we understand that the ability of our products to respond to your specific needs is the true validation of all the other promises we make to you.

When it comes to product, physicians truly are a community:

  • As a group, you are vulnerable to some exposures that are less likely to affect other professions (e.g., SARS, pathogens, etc.), and you have incomes and expenses that differ from those of the average Canadian, meaning your policy conditions, claims triggers, and coverage limits often need to be different too.
  • The fact that a significant number of you use MD Financial for your financial planning and wealth management also affects the amount and timing of coverage many of you need.
  • From a claims perspective, physicians are, for the most part, a great group. Physicians try hard to get back to work after a disability, you recover quickly from illness, and you enjoy better-than-average mortality (you live longer). In some types of policies, you require specialized coverage that's different from the average Canadian (e.g., home and auto policies can be non-standard for some physicians).

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All of this matters when we sit down with our insurance partners and start designing or updating policies. Knowing you are all members of the OMA gives us huge influence — you represent a large, desirable, valuable group to insurance companies — when creating our administration and management systems. It means we can design policies that meet your needs rather than just accepting an "off-the-shelf" offering. However, despite your desirability as clients, there are a few caveats to keep in mind:

  • Influence is not the same as decision-making pow​​​er. So no matter how large, desirable or valuable our group is, there are limits to the terms and coverages that OMA Insurance can negotiate on your behalf.
  • There are legal limits on what insurers can do: government regulation is very strict in the insurance industry and some things are simply not permitted.
  • Sometimes, the amount of customization we can offer you as physicians is limited. Travel insurance needs, for example, are affected more by the details of your individual travel plans than by the fact that you are a physician. As a result, the OMA Travel Insurance offering is tailored for you individually rather than for physicians as a whole.

At OMA Insurance, we know great product is necessary, but we also know that product alone is not sufficient to create great value for our members. The concept of community — a group of people sharing common interests and characteristics — is at the core of what drives OMA Insurance to create value for our members.


Selection Of Partners

A unique part of the OMA Insurance experience is that much of it depends upon the quality of our business partners. Selecting our partners is important to us since they are often the people you turn to for answers to questions, for handling claims, and for general information. For all our policies, it is our business partners who put their capital at risk to issue our policies and to pay out claims.

​ For all of our policies, it is our business partners who put their capital at risk

Great products ​​with poor partners will result in unmet expectations, and promises that are not honoured. This is the opposite of what we strive to create, and so partner selection matters to us. In selecting OMA Insurance partners, we have four main starting points. We are looking for a person or organization that:

  • Is willing to work with us toward a shared goal (our goals are not always identical, but the goals must always be compatible);
  • Cares about the outcome;
  • Is willing to share the risk and the reward; and
  • Contributes some type of specialized skill or knowledge to the work.

From OMA Insurance consultant John Sealey (who assists so many of our members in preparing the submission for a Disability Insurance claim), to major financial organizations like New York Life and Sun Life (to name only a few), we regularly meet with our business partners. We review the quality of their work, the complaints they or we receive about their work, and we explore new opportunities to improve. It is our business partners who brought us online insurance applications (coming later this year!) and who enable us to provide unique offerings like our Clinic program and OMA Encore65.

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Technology and software vendors and consultants fall into our business partner category, and we work with them as well to ensure that the solutions and services we provide are as good as they can be.

Finally, we are very lucky to have an alliance with MD Financial and the other provincial medical association insurance operations: our regular interactions with all of them allow us to learn and provide a co-operative forum to help give physicians in each participating province the "best" insurance offering, while working to ensure quality, seamless service to members no matter what their needs.


Commu​nication

With great products and industry-leading partners, we have an excellent foundation from which to deliver great value. But the final piece of the puzzle is communication. To create value, we must:

  • Engage you about insurance and risk and why it matters to you.
  • Educate you on the exposures you face and the options available to you.
  • Advise you on what the recommended actions could be based on your individual circumstances.
  • Help you take Action to implement whatever solutions you decide to take.

While our aim is to "Engage" and "Educate" all physicians regarding your insurance risks and options at each stage of your lives, we realize that as we go through the "Advise" and "Action" phases, some of you will decide to use other advisers, select actions that are best handled by other parties, or simply never get around to making a decision.

The​ only way we can effectively accomplish our Engage-Educate- Advise-Action value delivery journey is through communication. For us, this means communicating with you in an intelligent, helpful and altruistic manner. It means listening — attentively and actively — so that we can understand and focus on your needs. It means we need to know about you as a community of physicians, so that we understand the general lifestyle, asset and business needs you will face. It also means designing our messages so that we can try to break through the clutter of all the other messages that bombard you on a daily basis.

​ It means listening — attentively and actively —​ so that we can understand and focus on your needs.​​

This may sound simple, but it is incredibly difficult. We engage in development work for our team so that we can be the best at listening, understanding and explaining. We also survey our clients extensively, and invest a great deal of effort in trying to keep our surveys short, meaningful, actionable, and easy to complete (we use a software program called Qualtrics, and I am proud to say we have one of the few "gold certified" Qualtrics professionals in Canada working on our team). We attend meetings to learn about what is happening in your world. We even have a team of Engagement and Education specialists dedicated to the first two steps of our value journey process.


I Am Part Of ​​We, But I Am Still Me

At OMA Insurance, we believe that our communities are an important part of what make us strong. I am sure you feel the same about the communities of which you are a member, whether it's a community of fellow physicians (e.g., through the OMA), the local community in which you work, or a community of individuals with shared interests or faith.

We also know, however, that regardless of the commonalities that draw us together into a community, we are all still individuals. We may share a great number of traits with our fellow community members, but we are not all exactly the same. That is why we continue to build our value around a core offering of trusted advice and service; it is why we cherish the long-term relationships we have had with our clients, and why we continue to expand the choices and options available to you as you embark upon the "Advise" and "Action" parts of our value journey.

It is important that as we expand our knowledge of your community, we never stop listening to your individual voice. As we innovate and experiment with new and better ways to serve you, we promise to keep this at the core of what we do for you: individualized advice and service within a community-focused group offering.


OMA Insurance: Not for Profit, All for Doctors.​

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