Q&A With a Technology Leader: Tony Carlton of Carlton Insurance

Michael Spiar, Broker Relations & Communications Specialist | Insurance People

The Centre for Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO) recently caught up with Tony Carlton, CEO of Carlton Insurance Brokers in Jasper, Alta., to learn about his brokerage’s philosophy on using technology to benefit consumers. The brokerage has 11 employees offering service in p&c with a focus on transportation.

Carlton is one of more than 100 CSIO tech leaders across Canada. The Technology Leader award promotes nine core technologies essential for serving today’s digital-savvy consumer.

Q: Tony, what is your philosophy on identifying and adopting technology solutions?
A: It’s got to improve processes, and it’s got to improve efficiency. It has to solve a problem and not add more steps. If you can keep people’s energy and morale up with the efficiencies created by technology, that’s a plus.

The only constant in our office is change. We tell everyone when we hire them that if you cannot adapt to change and move quickly, this is not the industry for you.

Q: What is your process for implementing any new technology?
A: I always tell the staff, “Two weeks and we’ll review, and in 30 days you’ll forget there was ever another way.” You convey your expectations and acknowledge that there are going to be issues, because everyone has their own process that is “better than anyone else’s.” But if we can all get behind each other when we’re on holidays or sick, or out of the office for sales, then process is established and everyone is working better together.

Q: What is the barrier to technological innovation for insurance brokerages?
A: Most owners are over 50, and change is scary as heck. They can outlay $20K, $30K, $40K for technology and they have to re-learn processes and teach an old dog a new trick. As well, a lot of them are planning to sell the place in three to five years and they say, “I’m not going to put any more money into it.”

But for me, when I buy a new house or business, I’d like a turn-key product – and I’ll pay for that. If these guys don’t adopt tech now, they’re going to have to sell for a lot less because the buyer will need to invest to add
and re-do processes.

A lot of the successful brokerages in Alberta are bringing in a 25- to 30-year-old partner who’s pushing the envelope. It’s almost like a different segment that they’re in charge of, which is very smart.

Q: What are the main benefits of personal and commercial lines eDocs?
A: The process of eDocs is second to none. Even when an old-school client calls in, we can pull up that eDoc so much faster than if we had to go through paper files. That broker’s availability for a phone call or an email goes up, and creates a better experience that clients appreciate.

On the cost side, our office has saved 32 per cent on postage since last year, and we had projected only 25 per cent. With eDocs, you get efficiency in time and money to invest in more important aspects of your business.

Q: Why is it important to have a mobile-responsive website?
A: If your website isn’t mobile-optimized, it’s almost like you’re disrespecting your customers. We’ve heard this said to us – it blew me away. A responsive website opens the door to more business without any words being said. It signals that you guys are ready, you guys are up to date with technology.

Q: What role does social media play in your brokerage?
A: Facebook is the 40+ crowd for us. Instagram is much more successful with the 25 to 40 group. It’s a lot of trial and error, with some things that work well and some things that cost a couple hundred bucks and fail. We’ve gotten 37,000 impressions and an insane clickthrough on a four-day campaign before, but how many people call through and make a sale? Is that more successful than a campaign with one impression that made a sale?

If you can catch someone with their iPad on the couch and make them laugh, you get your personality out there, they follow the personality.
Q: What are the benefits of eSignatures?

A: Time. The time of not tracking people down, the time processing. The process is always 90 per cent done except for that one thing, that one signature.

Our trucking clientele are especially appreciative. They’re on the road all day, they’re fixing their truck, the last thing they want to do is find something, print it and scan or fax it back to you. And it’s funny, because they’re the same guys who don’t want the rest of the technology, but with this it becomes, “Hang on, something that’s going to save me a little bit of time?” It becomes a foot in the door for your other technology to come in and transition these guys away from paper in other areas.

About 55 per cent of our clients are paperless right now, and we’re trying to get it up to 75 per cent by the end of the year. eSignatures are a big part of that success.

Sidebar: Technology Scorecard

Now in its second year, CSIO’s Technology Scorecard compares brokerage adoption against the provincial average of the following technologies: eDocs, CSIOnet, auto & habitational eForms, eSignature/call-recording, TLS eMail security, brokerage website, SEO and social media.


Brokerages that receive a score of 100 per cent are deemed top performers and each year 100 are given Technology Leader status. Want to see if your brokerage is a Technology Leader? Visit CSIO.com/scorecard-tool.


Brokers are automatically members of CSIO through their provincial broker association, and may create an account on CSIO.com to stay informed on updates to industry forms, eDocs, electronic proof-of-auto insurance (eSlips) and other technology news.

Q: How does your brokerage use call recording?
A: It’s my favourite technology. I don’t know how we ever did without it. We’re almost in our fifth year now, and we’ve found benefits in e&o, staff training and of course obtaining audio signatures. We’ll do training calls with new hires and listen to the recording for areas of improvement.

From an e&o perspective, we had an incident where we spoke to a gentleman about increasing his liability, and heopted not to, and there was a three-car chain-reaction collision and he didn’t have enough insurance. The recording was very helpful in that situation.

Q: How does your brokerage handle cybersecurity?
A: You can’t have enough plan Bs. We have dual servers, we have the cloud backups, quarterly reviews – we even use two outside firms to test and advise us. Do I ever feel comfortable about it? No. It’s just one of those things that you can dump a lot of money on, have a lot of people working for you, and if it still goes down it’s going to be time-consuming to get it going again.

On the human side, we coach our employees to recognize scams, but is someone eventually going to click on something wrong? For sure. We had three in the last month. But our systems caught it, and it becomes a teaching moment for that employee.

Q: If you had to pick one technology goal for your brokerage in the next year, what would it be?
A: The digital pink card, proof-of-auto insurance. That’s where customers want to go, and once it’s legal and  we’re able to provide it, that will be huge.