Avail is North America’s first insurance-based social enterprise. A tech and risk management-driven, full-service insurance brokerage that is disrupting the status quo in a very old industry. The Culture within our industry has been based on old-world thinking where business comes first and clients second. Don’t get me wrong, the insurance industry does take care of its clients, but I believe in a way that caters to the business and administrative ends, not in ensuring clients can easily navigate the insurance process. At Avail, our organization is built around service and client satisfaction. It’s in our mission statement to “be of service” – we do this in a unique way, and our values of servant leadership, community, and customer satisfaction are the pillars that our business model is founded on. Service is in our DNA, from how we treat our employees, policyholders, and partners. If you’re not a service-minded person, you won’t fit in with Avail – it’s the hallmark upon which we base all our business, philanthropic and client decisions.
Tell us about yourself?
I have been in the insurance industry for almost 20 years now and have held several executive leadership positions for more than half of that time. During this period, I’ve led some of the largest brokerages in Ontario, where I’ve introduced new business transformation strategies leading to high-performing and successful insurance teams in Canada. In doing so, I’ve had the pleasure of working with and leading some of the top talents in this industry. What’s more, working with these teams allowed me to experiment with new concepts and strategies for delivering insurance in new and modern ways, which has helped me develop the foundation and culture behind Avail.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Trust your gut, double down on good people and ideas, bet on yourself, and most of the time…do the exact opposite of the status quo or standard operating procedures.
What problem does your business solve?
The answer is two-fold. We are truly driven to affect our client’s bottom line with heavy risk management and our proprietary industry-leading insurtech. It allows us to utilize more automation and fewer bodies engaged in the administrative work so that we maximize our resources by focusing on our high-skilled advisory work and human connection with our clients, whether big or small. We have been affecting the pricing in every segment of the industry while ensuring a quick and seamless service and a second-to-none client experience.
The second problem we’re working towards is helping the communities we work for and in by giving back through active service and community capacity building. The automation and technology in our business allow us the ability to dedicate 20 per cent of our team members’ time to be in the community serving the less fortunate and disenfranchised.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
Our society has become very much driven by money and owning things. We seem to have forgotten those who are being left behind and our ability to take care of one another. As a result, the divide between those who have and those who have not has been ever-increasing. How many properties or things does a person need to be happy? Even while leading a large business, I still ran a small not-for-profit for many years. After the pandemic, I was burnt out and began asking why providing insurance and charitable service needed to be mutually exclusive. I looked around and saw so much waste, antiquated systems and redundancy. That’s when the idea of Avail was born. I created a new business model that introduced our Availien Technology™️, the best in human capital and a focus on serving clients and communities by blending my three passions, insurance, technology and philanthropy. People thought I had lost it, but I followed my heart, bet on myself, and began to build a high-performing team, and the rest is history.
We are hoping to solve food and shelter scarcity and lend support to make an impact on addiction and mental health for communities in need. We realize that the answers needed to address these issues are not easy to find, and just like insurance, the difficulties are multilayered. For example, we end late renewals, capacity issues, the rising fixed cost of insurance, and the bulky, antiquated systems and procedures that add to the public’s ever-rising cost of insurance. We are dedicating ourselves to finding as many workable solutions to these human and business problems as possible.
What is your magic sauce?
New transformative thinking, together with High-Tech + Talent = Service Excellence! How do we do this? We create the best tech in the industry to streamline or remove antiquated processes while doubling down on the best risk management talent and over-serving our business clients. True insurtech frees up time and capital, allowing us more face time with our clients and more revenue to contribute to the people who need a hand-up.
The secret sauce is our team, investment in next-gen Avail Coin™️ Labs technology, and the fact that my entire company chose our philanthropic vision first before the “insurance job”. Being the best at what they do, in this current job market, they have endless opportunities. They chose Avail because of the mission…the fun atmosphere, wild ideas, work hours, education, and mentorship. Meanwhile, we will lead our industry in the typical broker KPIs as a result of the culture we are building for our employees and partners. That allows us to have an office full of people that wake up in the morning excited to serve their community and each other…before over-serving our clients. People are attracted to our purpose, and that’s why they’ll stay!
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
The plan is simple. We will grow the brokerage and our insurtech company until it’s in a position to donate $5M annually to charity. That’s the goal everyone at Avail works towards every day. We will be the fastest-growing and most innovative brokerage on this continent while serving the people who are most in need.
Simple…Be the change we want to see in the world while being of service. There is another way to do this… and we have figured it out, and nothing will stop us from achieving our mission.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
I must say, the support from our Canadian insurance markets has been incredible. It’s almost impossible for a new brokerage to start up in this day and age and have full market access. Thankfully, the Canadian insurance industry also has a heart of gold and is filled with dynamic leaders who want to help their communities. My track record for growth and the market’s willingness to support my wild social enterprise, for the most part, there may be one or two stragglers, lol, has allowed me to do the impossible in the P&C market, so that challenge didn’t last long.
I would have to say time. There is never enough of it.
We haven’t changed course. We are laser-focused on the vision, mission, and goal.
How can people get involved?
There are many ways to reach us; you can find us online at www.avail-insurance.com, LinkedIn is where we’re most active, @avail risk management & consulting Inc @David Leadbetter, updating on our community outreach and business initiatives, or you can email us at: [email protected]. Finally, you can always swing by our offices in Burlington, Oakville, Calgary, BC, or find us in the streets serving our community. We go to where our customers are, and that’s in the community, in the trenches where the magic happens!