Insurance Business Canada 9.01

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INS U W CA RAN IN NA CE NE DA BU RS AW SIN RE AR ESS VE DS A LE

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WWW.INSURANCEBUSINESS.CA ISSUE 9.01 | $12.95

TOP 10

BROKERAGES Canada’s best brokerages and how they overcame the challenges of 2020 MEET THE ELITE BROKERS

The country’s top brokers let IBC in on the secrets behind their success

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THE CANNABIS SECTOR GROWS UP

The market is maturing – so what’s in store for cannabis insurance in 2021?

THE TOP HOME INSURERS

Brokers name the insurers that provide the best policies for homeowners

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Data analyst Part-time baker Avid camper

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ISSUE 9.01

CONNECT WITH US

CONTENTS

COMMEMORATIVE GUIDE

p 41

Got a story or suggestion, or just want to find out some more information? twitter.com/InsuranceBizCA plus.google.com/+InsurancebusinessCa facebook.com/InsuranceBusinessCanada

UPFRONT 02 Editorial

From a year of chaos to a year of opportunity

30

20

ELITE BROKERS

08 Intelligence

IBC spotlights 25 brokers who managed to spin the many challenges of 2020 into new avenues of success

10 Technology update

How technology can help companies get a grip on a changing risk landscape The hard market is giving MGAs a chance to shine

17 Opinion

FEATURES

63

GROWING PAINS

14

This month’s big movers and shakers

12 MGA update

Discover which brokerages made the cut for this year’s top 10 and how they made it happen

Jean-François Chalifoux, head of the newly minted Beneva, offers an insider’s perspective on the merger of two giants (La Capitale and SSQ) that created the new mutual insurer

06 News analysis

A look at the potential social media perils for directors and officers

TOP 10 BROKERAGES

INDUSTRY ICON

Key data that should be on your radar

SPECIAL REPORT

SPECIAL REPORT

PEOPLE

04 Statistics

Brokers outline the threats and opportunities Canada’s cannabis insurance market is facing in 2021

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Property insurers who harness databased imaging will be one step ahead

FEATURES 18 The importance of trust in turbulent times

The keys to maintaining trust during the COVID-19 pandemic

76 Bracing for impact

As consumers get desperate, brokers should look out for these signs of fraud

PEOPLE 74 Time to evolve

Navacord president and CEO Shawn DeSantis on how COVID-19 has forced brokerages to transform Home

80 Other life

FEATURES

In the kitchen with insurance VP and former MasterChef Canada contestant Thea VanHerwaarden

5-STAR HOME INSURERS

INSURANCEBUSINESS.CA

Brokers weighed in – now see who made their list of the industry’s best home insurers

CHECK IT OUT ONLINE www.insurancebusiness.ca 1

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UPFRONT

EDITORIAL

A fresh start

T

he beginning is the most important part of any work. Philosophy fans might recognize that phrase from Plato’s The Republic, authored around 375 BC. It’s time for the Canadian insurance industry to think about new beginnings in 2021. We’ve started the year still under the black cloud of COVID-19. In many countries, cases are still soaring, communities are suffering, businesses are struggling, and public positivity is precarious at best. But there are opportunities to turn things around in 2021. We can learn from our mistakes of the past year, we can convert challenges into opportunities, we can innovate and grow, and we can build communities that are more resilient, both to known risks and Black Swan events like the coronavirus pandemic. The insurance industry will play a critical role in the success of society’s new beginning. First and foremost, insurance is a key part of recovery. There are thousands of businesses across Canada that need a helping hand to get back on their feet, and so far insurers, brokers and agents have all stepped up to the plate. That support – whether in the form of premium rebates, coverage flexibility, extra risk management advice, interpretation of COVID-19 regulations or all of the above – must continue and evolve through 2021.

The insurance industry will play a critical role in the success of society’s new beginning Now’s the time for insurers and brokers to develop new products and risk management solutions that are more relevant for consumers in a pandemic and post-pandemic world. COVID-19 has sparked a mass movement toward digitalization, giving rise to a proliferation of new digital and cyber-related exposures. This opens up an abundance of opportunities for insurers to transfer these risks and protect consumers as they navigate this new tech-driven society. The pandemic has changed how we go about our lives in many ways. With more people working from home, commercial liability exposure and workers’ compensation have also evolved, albeit temporarily. And on the personal front, individuals are using their vehicles far less, prompting demands for changes in the personal auto space, including greater adoption of telematics and usage-based insurance solutions. Simply put, this new beginning is one of opportunity. The new year represents a fresh start, and insurers and brokers have a chance to increase their relevance to consumers and carry them through the systemic changes that will inevitably arise as a result of the pandemic. This is the most important part of any work.

The team at Insurance Business Canada

www.insurancebusiness.ca

EDITORIAL Managing Editor Paul Lucas Senior Editor Bethan Moorcraft Writers Lyle Adriano, Alicja Grzadkowska, Pete Miller, Gabriel Olano, Ryan Smith, Ksenia Stepanova, Mia Wallace Copy Editor Clare Alexander

CONTRIBUTORS

Upendra Belhe, Guy Attar, Mark Carter

ART & PRODUCTION Designer Joenel Salvador Production Coordinators Kat Guzman, Ella Dayandante Customer Success Coordinator Bernz Jalandoni

SALES & MARKETING Business Development Manager Desiree McCue Sales Manager Dane Taylor Vice President - Sales John Mackenzie Global Head of Media Marketing Lisa Narroway Project Coordinator Jessica Duce

CORPORATE President & CEO Tim Duce Office/Traffic Manager Marni Parker Events and Conference Manager Chris Davis Chief Information Officer Colin Chan Human Resources Manager Julia Bookallil Global CEO Mike Shipley Global COO George Walmsley

Editorial Inquiries paul.lucas@keymedia.com Subscription Inquiries subscriptions@keymedia.com Advertising Inquiries desiree.mccue@keymedia.com

Key Media Canada (Insurance) Ltd. tel: +1 416 644 8740 www.keymedia.com Offices in Toronto, Denver, London, Sydney, Auckland, Manila, Singapore, Seoul

Insurance Business Canada is part of an international family of B2B publications, websites and events for the insurance industry Insurance Business America cathy.masek@keymedia.com T +1 720 316 0151 Insurance Business UK gemma.powell@keymedia.com T +44 20 7193 0935 Insurance Business Australia peter.smith@keymedia.com.au T +61 2 8437 47OO Insurance Business NZ peter.smith@keymedia.com.au T +61 2 8437 47OO Insurance Business Asia peter.smith@keymedia.com.au T +61 2 8437 47OO Copyright is reserved throughout. No part of this publication can be reproduced in whole or part without the express permission of the editor. Contributions are invited, but copies of work should be kept, as the magazine can accept no responsibility for loss.

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We click.

stry

The future is digital. Let’s explore it together. Find out more about our specialty insurance and surety solutions.

Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company is a Canadian owned and operated Property and Casualty insurance company specializing in niche insurance and surety products. We are a proud supporter of the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada. www.trisura.com

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a step above

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UPFRONT

STATISTICS THE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE

Canada GLOBAL PROPERTY RATE MOVEMENTS FOR 2021 RENEWALS

5–6%

10%

The renewal season at the beginning of 2021 has highlighted the resilience of the global reinsurance market, according to a new report from Willis Re. While 2020 was marked by high natural catastrophe losses and prior-year development on liability lines, as well as further reductions in interest rates and losses inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, global insurance capital has rapidly recovered, tallying 3% year-over-year growth. Willis Re attributed this comeback to improving investment markets, retained earnings and new capital. Despite rate increases in property lines across the globe (including some double-digit spikes in the US and Canada), Willis Re remained hopeful that the increase in supply of capital will result in a firmer insurance market, rather than a truly hard market.

$14.5 billion

Total cost of damage to Canadian property and businesses between 2010 and 2019

$110 million

20%

GLOBAL PROPERTY MARKETS SHOW FIRMING TREND

Estimated amount of GDP growth lost in Canada over the last decade due to severe weather damage

Average cost of damages due to a weatherrelated disaster between 2010 and 2019

30%

0% -10%

United States 30% 20% 10% 0% -10%

Pro rata commission Risk (loss-free) Risk (loss-hit) Catastrophe (loss-free) Catastrophe (loss-hit)

RANSOMWARE COSTS ESCALATE RAPIDLY Ransomware claims made up more than a fourth of all cyber claims in 2019, according to a recent study by Netdiligence. The cost of ransomware claims has risen rapidly since 2015, as has the frequency: Netdiligence reported 263 ransomware claims in 2019, compared to only 19 in 2015.

AVERAGE RANSOMWARE COSTS PER CLAIM Ransom amount

Incident costs

2019 2018

1,250%

Increase in the average cost of weatherrelated damages between the 1970s and now

2017 2016 2015 $0

Source: Canadian Institute of Climate Choices

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$20,000 $40,000 $60,000 $80,000 $100,000 $120,000 $140,000 $160,000 $180,000 $200,000 $220,000 $240,000 $260,000 $280,000 Source: Netdiligence Cyber Claims Study 2020 Report

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DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION IS HERE TO STAY

United Kingdom

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted shortcomings in insurers’ digital capabilities – and sped up their timelines for digital transformation. According to a recent Deloitte survey, 95% of insurers said they are or are planning to accelerate digital transformation to maintain resilience, although companies in North America and Europe are farther along in the process than those in Asia-Pacific.

30% 20% 10% 0%

Europe

-10%

30% 20% 10% 0% -10%

INSURERS’ PROGRESS ON IMPLEMENTING DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION PLANS

Asia

Already implementing Planning to implement Do not have plans to implement Don’t know

30% 20% 100%

10% 0%

80%

-10%

Latin America

60%

Australia

30%

30%

20%

20%

10%

10%

0%

0%

-10%

-10%

40%

20%

0%

Europe

North America

SMEs FALLING VICTIM TO RANSOMWARE Ransomware was the number-one cause of cyber losses for small and medium-sized enterprises in 2019, according to Netdiligence. Social engineering (which includes business email compromise and phishing) also accounts for a significant portion of losses, as do staff mistakes, which have increased over the past two years.

Ransomware

18% 3% 4% 5%

COMPANY ASSETS ARE INCREASINGLY INTANGIBLE More than 90% of large companies’ assets are now considered intangible, according to a new study by Guy Carpenter. Having escalated over the past four decades, this trend has transformed the characteristics of risks assumed by insurers and reinsurers.

Tangible 1975

Staff mistake Hacker

CAUSES OF CYBER LOSS FOR SMEs

82%

8%

16% 15%

Rogue employee Other/unknown Source: Cyber Claims Study 2020 Report, Netdiligence

18%

1985

20%

80%

2015

69%

Phishing Malware/virus

Intangible 2005

Business email compromise

31%

Asia-Pacific

Source: 2021 Insurance Outlook, Deloitte

Source: Willis Re 1st View, January 2021

31%

1995

12%

88%

2020

32%

68%

9%

91% Source: Leading Up to January 2021 Reinsurance Renewals, Guy Carpenter

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UPFRONT

NEWS ANALYSIS

The dark side of social media Almost half of the world’s population is now using social media – but the plethora of personal data being shared on these platforms is leaving directors and officers exposed to potential fraud

THERE’S NO denying that in the 20 or so years since its inception, social media has rapidly evolved to become one of the most popular online activities. But how private is the information we share online, and how can it be used against us by threat actors looking to commit fraud? The annual Global Insurance Fraud Summit has identified the use of social media as a key trend shaping the evolution of insurance fraud. Investigators must acknowledge the crucial role that social media channels present as a source of data intelligence, says Dennis Toomey, global director for counter-

evolving. Criminals are adapting their activities incredibly quickly, often more quickly than defenses can be updated to tackle them. And it’s being used on a massive global scale. In the US, for instance, social engineering is used in a third of cyber breaches, with email compromises accounting for more than $1.2 billion in victim losses.” Broadly speaking, social media is creating new opportunities for fraud, particularly for investment fraud, says Peter Hazlewood, group financial crime risk director at Aviva. When it comes to social media, the common line of thought is that if you’re not paying

“Exploitation of social media and electronic communication has contributed to a fundamental shift in how fraudsters operate” Dennis Toomey, BAE Systems fraud analytics and insurance solutions at BAE Systems. Conversely, consumers must also be educated on the dangers of putting their personal information online. “Exploitation of social media and electronic communication has contributed to a fundamental shift in how fraudsters operate,” Toomey says. “It’s also rapidly

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for a product, then you are the product, but many people still aren’t highly aware of the dangers involved with sharing private information on a public platform. “For professionals, you need to assume that your social media activity may come into your work life,” Hazlewood says. “Certainly, I always assume that the two things are inter-

linked, and the way I conduct myself on social media is with the assumption that our chairman or CEO might see it.” An area where directors and officers need to be very careful, he adds, is with sensitive information. There have been numerous cases in the past where corporate professionals have gotten into trouble for putting sensitive information online, whether that’s price-sensitive information, disinformation, misleading information or potentially offensive posts. “There’s definitely an uptick in D&O insurance and in the tools that are out there to limit the liability and reduce fraud across the board,” says Rob Douglas, co-founder and CEO of fraud-detection search engine Skopenow. “But it’s difficult because, from what I’ve seen, the more popular or more public-facing a director is, the more risk there is because there are more details exposed, which can make it really easy to guess what their password hints might be.” Faced with the specter of this threat,

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FAST FACTS: SOCIAL MEDIA USE

There were more than 3.6 billion social media users worldwide in 2020

LinkedIn is the most-used social media platform among Fortune 500 companies

In Canada, 62% of the population are active users of social media

Toomey says anti-fraud teams are rising to the challenge and are harnessing social media themselves to combat fraud – albeit with caution, as this approach carries its own risks. Many carriers around the globe use

dard operating procedures in place to make sure the investigators stay well within the compliance guidelines.” Anti-fraud organizations such as Skopenow are now being used not only for

“You need to assume that your social media activity may come into your work life. Certainly, I always assume that the two things are interlinked” Peter Hazlewood, Aviva social media and open-source intelligence (OSINT) to investigate insurance fraud, although processes, sites and guidelines vary across the industry. “Carriers have to exercise extreme caution when using this to investigate suspicious claims,” Toomey says. “The good news is that most carriers do, and also have stan-

fraud investigations, Douglas says, but also to try to calculate how exposed someone is when online. Meanwhile, Hazlewood says there are several actions professionals can take to protect themselves and their data from fraudsters. First and foremost, he says, directors and officers should always assume

Facebook was the most popular social media brand in Canada in 2020 Sources: Statista, LinkedIn

that what they put online will be read widely, both within and outside their organization. This is especially relevant right now, he says, as information-harvesting fraud syndicates are increasingly posing as members of a credible organization to connect with members of an executive team on LinkedIn. Once they’re in that network, they have access to a lot more information, and they can see what an executive is doing behind the firewall of their privacy settings. This, in turn, enables fraudsters to reshape their methodology to make themselves appear even more credible. “One of the things that we do internally, especially in respect of our senior executives, is provide training and advice on how to use social media responsibly and how to stay secure,” Hazlewood says. “And that’s certainly something that is good practice for corporates.”

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UPFRONT

INTELLIGENCE CORPORATE ACQUIRER

TARGET

PRODUCTS COMMENTS

Gallagher

Cain Insurance Services

Cain focuses on public-sector clients, as well as the manufacturing, agriculture, realty and construction industries

HUB International

Prince Albert Insurance; Seymour Alper

Saskatchewan-based Prince Albert provides personal, commercial, farm and specialty products insurance; Seymour Alper specializes in various industries, including apparel/textiles, retail, real estate and manufacturing

NFP

EdgeHill Insurance Brokers; Ogilvy Insurance

EdgeHill will expand NFP’s footprint in Canada’s high-net-worth market, while Ogilvy will boost its presence in travel and performance watercraft insurance

Waypoint Insurance

Lynn Valley Insurance

Lynn Valley provides home and auto insurance to North Vancouver residents and also manages a commercial book of business

Westland Insurance Group

Daysland Insurance; Storm Insurance Group

The Daysland acquisition will broaden Westland’s reach in Alberta, while the purchase of Nova Scotia’s Storm Insurance Group represents Westland’s first acquisition in the province

a

RSA expands home business insurance offering

As more people turn their homes into offices amid the COVID-19 crisis, RSA Canada has released an update to its Business in the Home endorsement. The update expands eligibility of annual gross receipts for home-based businesses, increases coverage limits for business property and provides more clarity on RSA’s risk appetite. The insurer has also introduced changes to the eligibility criteria, expanding the types of businesses that can be insured under the endorsement, and has introduced new definitions for key concepts within the expanded endorsement.

Gallagher acquires New Brunswick P&C brokerage Gallagher has acquired retail P&C insurance brokerage Cain Insurance Services. Founded in 1986 and based in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Cain provides commercial and personal insurance and serves a wide range of industries, including the public sector, manufacturing, agriculture, realty and construction. President and co-owner Dan Cain, vice-president and co-owner Luke Cain, and their associates will continue to operate from their current location. Gallagher chairman, president and CEO J. Patrick Gallagher Jr. noted that “Cain’s broad capabilities and excellent client relationships in the New Brunswick market will complement and enhance Gallagher’s growing presence across Atlantic Canada.”

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IMS enhances usage-based auto insurance

Ontario-based Insurance & Mobility Solutions (IMS) has launched a new set of tools to allow insurers and mobility operators to expand the ways they interact with usage-based insurance customers. Backed by IMS’ AI-based Decision Engine, the new toolset allows users to craft engagement campaigns that combine reward programs with practical coaching and ‘nudge’ messaging. The tools are available either as a managed service from IMS, or via a self-service portal where insurers can configure, combine, and customize multi-layered messaging and rewards campaigns.

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PEOPLE Zurich brings parametric insurance to construction Zurich North America has launched a parametric insurance product for weather-related construction delays that goes beyond traditional builder’s risk insurance policies. The policy does not require physical loss or damage for a claim to be paid; rather, payment is based on predetermined weather events, such as extreme rain, wind or temperatures, occurring in the project’s location. The perils, thresholds, limit, deductible and coverage duration can be tailored to meet the needs of the buyer, and the threshold options for each peril are based on historical weather data at the project location.

CNA Canada unveils modular insurance policy

CNA Canada has launched Epack 3, a product it describes as a “next-generation” modular management liability, technology and professional liability, cyber and media policy. Epack 3 features a flexible policy structure with eight optional coverage components: D&O liability, employment practices liability, fiduciary liability, non-profit D&O liability, technology and professional liability, cyber liability, media liability, and crime. Its modular structure allows the policy to be customized for a wide range of businesses and non-profit organizations.

CAA brings pay-as-you-go auto insurance to PEI

Starting in mid-February, drivers in Prince Edward Island will be able to take advantage of CAA Insurance’s MyPace product. The PEI rollout is part of CAA’s wider plan to launch the program in Atlantic Canada; the insurer introduced MyPace in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in 2020. MyPace charges auto insurance premiums based on how much customers are driving, as measured by a telematics device installed in the vehicle. According to CAA, the MyPace program spiked in popularity during COVID-19 lockdowns, as people were driving less at the time.

NAME

LEAVING

JOINING

NEW POSITION

Robert Clark

N/A

Everest

Head, Everest Specialty Underwriters

Jim Edmands

N/A

Navacord

Senior vice-president, benefits and retirement

Robert Ghiz

N/A

Echelon Financial Holdings

Director

Rose Hall

N/A

AXA XL

Vice-president and head of construction innovation, North America

George James

International Fidelity Insurance Company

Trisura Group

Chief underwriting officer, US surety

Chelsa Materi

N/A

Saskatchewan Mutual Insurance

Assistant vice-president, underwriting

Nicolas Papadopoulo

N/A

Arch Capital Group

President and chief underwriting officer

Sharon Ranson

N/A

Echelon Financial Holdings

Director

Renato Rodrigues

N/A

AXA XL

Country manager, Canada

Leagh Turner

N/A

Manulife

Director

Global tech leader joins Manulife’s board

Global insurance giant Manulife has appointed Leagh Turner to its board of directors. A veteran leader in the tech sector, Turner is currently president and COO of Ceridian HCM Holding, a global human capital management software company. Before that, she held several senior leadership roles at SAP, including global COO for the strategic customer program. She has also held sales leadership positions at MicroStrategy, Oracle and Xerox. “Leagh brings extensive leadership expertise leveraging people, process and technology to drive organizational transformation,” said John Cassaday, chairman of the board at Manulife. “This expertise will be exceptionally valuable in supporting Manulife’s strategy, and especially our focus on being a digital customer leader.”

AXA XL names new country manager for Canada

AXA XL has appointed Renato Rodrigues to serve as country manager for Canada. He will be responsible for leading the insurer’s business strategy and overall insurance operations in the country and overseeing its regional offices in Toronto, Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver. Prior to this role, Rodrigues served as regional leader of AXA XL in Latin America, and he was also country manager for AXA XL Brazil for seven years. “We are delighted to see Renato pivot towards a new market of great appetite for AXA XL,” said Joe Tocco, the company’s CEO for the Americas. “He is a fantastic team leader and brings a wealth of knowledge in commercial P&C insurance and overall business strategy, which will support our growth objectives in Canada.”

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UPFRONT

TECHNOLOGY UPDATE NEWS BRIEFS Wawanesa rolls out new digital education platform

Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company has launched a new digital education platform designed to give its broker partners on-demand access to training. Wawanesa’s Broker Continuing Education platform, accessible on both computers and mobile devices, features multiple courses and will be updated regularly. Wawanesa’s previous broker training program delivered nearly 350 training sessions to more than 20,000 brokers. The new platform is designed to empower brokers and provide them with better digital tools.

CSIO unveils billing notification solution, new courses

The Centre for Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO) has introduced a new billing notification solution that relies on the organization’s proprietary CSIOnet and CSIO eDocs Standard, which are used by more than 2,200 brokerages and all major insurers. CSIO said the new billing notification approach will keep brokers informed while also saving them time and money and improving their customer service. CSIO has also expanded its e-learning offerings with two new courses: Staying Safe While Working from Home: Security Awareness for Remote Workers and Setting the Stage for 2021: Adopting the New Normal. Both courses cover cyber­ security at home, as well as broker operations and planning.

LowestRates.ca adds digital insurer Onlia to its site

LowestRates.ca has enabled users to compare rates from online insurance provider Onlia, which offers home and auto insurance in Ontario through a

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completely digital customer experience. Onlia is one of the few insurers in the province to offer insurance binding online, allowing customers to complete the quote-and-bind process in minutes. The company also offers virtual home check-up services for customers and provides a proprietary safe driving app called Onlia Sense.

TD Insurance launches its own online insurance portal

In a bid to cater to the stay-at-home economy and provide greater convenience for customers, TD Insurance has launched its own online platform, allowing Canadians to research and purchase auto and home insurance policies (including condo and tenant insurance) via the TD Insurance website. TD Insurance president and CEO Raymond Chun noted that “2020 has shown us that buying insurance online direct is a necessity – not a convenience – for Canadians, who now prefer to purchase home and auto insurance end-to-end without the need for an in-home or office visit.”

Brokerslink unveils program management platform

Brokerslink has launched Space B IPA (International Program Administration), a dedicated international insurance program management platform designed to help Brokerslink brokers in more than 118 countries manage and deliver structured and compliant international and cross-border programs. Developed in collaboration with Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, Space B IPA allows brokers to aggregate and consolidate all types of risk and insurance information, including policies, premiums, deductibles, and coverages, as well as risk assessment and management details.

How risk has changed during COVID-19 The pandemic has placed greater demands on risk management, but new tech solutions can help companies meet them While 2020 has come and gone, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact nearly every aspect of life and the global economy. So how much has the risk landscape changed due to the pandemic, and what can businesses do to prepare themselves for the worst? “Just about everything has been disrupted or adjusted,” says Craig Rowe, CEO of risk management software provider ClearRisk. “The heightened uncertainty is the biggest change – primarily uncertainty about the duration and the impact, both the human toll and the economic impact.” Rowe adds that in the current environment, most companies are either hurting or wondering when the hurt will begin. “Every company is worried about their employees, their customers and their communities,” he says. “The risk calculus in every decision has changed and become harder to quantify. What does the post-COVID-19 world look like? Where does a company invest, and what do they divest? How are emerging markets going to fare, and how will that impact global markets?” The pandemic has also forced many businesses to confront the reality that brick-and-

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mortar operations aren’t as important, Rowe says, which has left many traditional businesses in fear of being disrupted by smaller, more nimble companies. “More than ever, companies need to invest in risk management to be able to more quickly respond to the ever-changing and more complex risk landscape,” he says.

“With uncertainty at an all-time high, the only way to keep up on changes in risk is to automate” To properly manage their risks in this time of remote work, Rowe says organizations need to use modern tools to extract greater insights and value, as well as benefit from a much faster feedback loop. Risk management software like ClearRisk’s helps companies automate the data collection and analysis needed to identify, measure, treat and monitor risk. The software turns data into information that can be used to manage risk in real time, helping organizations plan for better risk outcomes, lower their claims frequency, lower their cost of risk and even make better business decisions. “With uncertainty at an all-time high, the only way to keep up on changes in risk is to automate,” Rowe says. “The fundamentals of risk management haven’t changed – the speed at which it needs to be done, and the volume of data that need to be analyzed, has.”

Q&A

Reginald J. Twigg Director of product marketing for data capture ABBYY

Years in the tech industry 24 Fast fact Twigg’s educational background is in communication theory, including semiotics, linguistics and speech pathology

Going digital with documentation What is ABBYY? ABBYY is a digital intelligence company that provides document processing with process assessment and monitoring technologies for enterprises. We see digital transformation happening everywhere, with organizations looking to optimize and target automation at specific high-value processes. At the same time, they’re also rethinking how those processes should work – in particular, looking at how they handle the vast amounts of content and documents that flow through them. How do people use those documents? How do they make sense of them? ABBYY helps organizations to do that.

How is ABBYY helping insurance companies with their digital transformation? Insurers have a need to onboard new customers, underwrite policies and process claims, and throughout those processes, one of the biggest pains they face is their reliance on documentation to provide proof of certain events. ABBYY technologies can process [documentation] on the fly as the customer enters into the process, allowing insurance companies to be more responsive, more effective and much more competitive. ABBYY takes a process-centric approach; we have solutions that help organizations quickly discover how their processes work – particularly the difficult content/document-driven processes at the core of insurance businesses.

What digital transformation issues have you seen among insurers over the past six months? With the COVID-19 pandemic, the way we interact and conduct business turned upside down overnight. Insurance companies have had to go digital really fast to maintain continuity and respond to digital competitors. But they don’t have the luxury of time to evaluate, study, research, implement or even pick a platform. One of the main challenges insurers face is that the traditional models of adopting technology – big platforms, systems and applications – are becoming obsolete for the current business environment. They have to rethink how they use technology and assess how their scope and handle have changed. Insurers should instead introduce incremental changes that address specific pain points, and they have to test and deploy them faster than ever.

Which areas are best suited for ABBYY? One area that comes to mind is claims. How do insurers process claims? There’s the first notification of loss, assessment of fault, getting estimates of work, collecting documents about the incident, determining liability and dealing with third parties – and those processes all rely on different documents. Insurers need good document recognition technologies and good process discovery, and those are the types of solutions that we can jump in and provide immediately.

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UPFRONT

MGA UPDATE

Making a splash in a hardening market Faced with a difficult market, MGAs are finding an opportunity to improve their value proposition

“Traditionally, the natural disaster focus has been on flood, fire and earthquake,” he says. “Now we are seeing a worldwide natural disaster that has transcended borders and industries in a way that has never been experienced before.” In this uncertain global economy, MGAs have a crucial role to play in helping insurers manage risk. “MGAs’ central value proposition is expertise and detailed risk-level data,” Hirst says. “Many insurers are wedded to older soft-

“[MGAs] are able to spot trends and take quicker action on the data than most insurers”

While 2020 was rough for everyone, the insurance industry was already dealing with a hardening market even before COVID-19 made things a lot more difficult. “The economy has been devastated, and many businesses have been adversely affected – some have even gone out of business because of the pandemic,” says Gary Hirst, president and CEO of CHES Special Risk. “This has reduced the amount of premium in the market and is pushing premiums higher for

NEWS BRIEFS

businesses that are still operating because the insurance market is trying to make a profit.” The pandemic also led to numerous business interruption claims, Hirst says, which could have a domino effect on the E&O market. COVID-19 has also made insurers second-guess whether to provide coverage for businesses such as hotels. Hirst also believes it could change the risk landscape, shifting attention from expected natural disasters to wide-scale, unpredictable ones.

Howden Group invests in DUAL’s reinsurance unit

Howden Group Holdings has made its first underwriting capital investment, injecting US$84 million into Tamesis DUAL, the reinsurance division of MGA DUAL Group. The additional capacity has been in place since January 1; the capital was provided by Howden Group and a third-party investor. CEO David Howden said the investment represents what Howden Group can do when it uses expertise from across its companies, which include Howden Reinsurance, Howden Capital Markets, Tamesis and DUAL.

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ware systems and, through acquisitions, are left with incompatible software systems.” MGAs, on the other hand, “look very closely at statistics and are able to spot trends and take quicker action on the data than most insurers,” Hirst says. They also have expert underwriters who can think outside the box, he adds, allowing insurers to rely on underwriting expertise instead of analytics-only decision-making. “An MGA maximizes insurers’ profits,” he says. “Instead of investment dollars going towards company infrastructure, giving capacity to a third party, the only price is commission, and a tenth of the staff is needed to administer premiums and claims. It’s a prudent way for insurers to manage overhead costs.”

CAMGA unveils code of ethics for members

The Canadian Association of Managing General Agents (CAMGA) has announced the adoption of a code of ethics for its members. Developed over several months by a working group of MGAs, regulatory practitioners and ethics experts, it covers six areas of operation deemed essential by CAMGA. “Professionalism, confidence and trust are crucial in this industry, and MGAs who follow this code of ethics are driven to achieve the highest standards of these goals,” said CAMGA managing director Steve Masnyk.

www.insurancebusiness.ca

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Q&A

Pat Brice Distribution director

The current state of the MGA market

CFC UNDERWRITING

Years in the industry 22 Fast fact Prior to joining CFC in 2015, Brice led RSA’s professional and financial risks division for 16 years

How did the MGA market hold up in 2020? How was CFC Underwriting’s business in Canada last year? The MGA market is as big and varied as any other insurance sector, so it’s hard to compare the experience of a smaller, niche operation to that of a well-established player operating in numerous countries across multiple lines. However, despite the challenges that the pandemic has thrown down, I think the market as a whole has remained as fast-moving and dynamic as ever. I was really pleased with the progress that CFC made in Canada last year. We’re fortunate that our business is focused on emerging risks, which have come to the fore during the pandemic, whereas more traditional classes such as property have had a rougher time. For example, in the new work-from-home environment, businesses have become acutely aware of their cyber exposures, so we’ve experienced a significant uptick in demand from our Canadian partners as a result. Equally, as the provision of health services has shifted to telehealth propositions, we’ve seen increasing interest in our solutions for this sector.

What were the biggest challenges MGAs faced during the pandemic? I don’t think they’ve been any different to those of the wider insurance community – how do you continue to service your customers, putting them front and

Victor hires marine insurance veteran to head marine unit

Victor Insurance has tapped Richard Turner, the current president of the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI), to serve as the MGU’s first-ever international head of marine. Based in London, Turner will focus on data- and analytics-driven insurance products and solutions for Victor’s international marine business. Turner previously held a number of leadership positions at RSA Insurance Group, including global marine director, director of Global Risk Solutions Europe and CEO of RSA Luxembourg.

centre, whilst looking after your staff and writing business profitably?

Has remote work impacted the way your business operates? How has your team adapted to this shift? We’ve always invested heavily in technology – the platforms that our internal teams have built have allowed us to remain headquartered in London, yet support brokers across Canada and other countries worldwide. So the actual shift to remote working for CFC was relatively smooth, and I’m proud to say that our service levels have not been impacted. However, while Zoom, Teams and the like have allowed us to maintain positive, regular contact with our Canadian partners, I’d be lying if I said our team hasn’t been frustrated by not being able to travel and physically see people. There’s no substitute, and I think we’re all champing at the bit to get on a plane and get our boots back on Canadian soil as soon as it’s safe for us to do so.

What trends do you see emerging in the MGA market this year? There’s going to be continued pressure on underwriting capacity and appetite. We’re undoubtedly going to see continued rate rises across the board – although, arguably, this has been long overdue in some areas of the market and is needed to see the commercial lines market get back to some level of consistency.

Westland Insurance acquires Storm Insurance Group

Westland Insurance has acquired Nova Scotia-based Storm Insurance Group and its various brands, including MGA Agile Underwriting Solutions; retail brokerages A.P. Reid, Sheppard, and Axxium; group brokerage MyGroup; and digital insurance platform ZipSure.ca. After the deal is finalized, Westland Insurance will gain new branches across the Western, Central, Quebec and Atlantic regions, which comprise more than 120 employees in six provinces and more than 100,000 clients.

CAMGA joins small business insurance pool

The Canadian Association of Managing General Agents (CAMGA) has joined the Business Insurance Action Team (BIAT), an Insurance Bureau of Canada initiative aimed at providing insurance solutions to small businesses that have been severely impacted by COVID-19. CAMGA has created a panel of member MGAs that will assist the BIAT in underwriting the submissions received. For now, the program is focused on supporting businesses in the hospitality sector.

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03/02/2021 2:50:05 am


PEOPLE

INDUSTRY ICON

PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST The merger of La Capitale and SSQ Insurance has created Beneva, Canada’s largest mutual insurer. President and CEO Jean-François Chalifoux tells IBC how the combined entity will benefit Canadian brokers and their clients

PEOPLE LOOKING out for people: that’s the promise pumping from the heart of Canada’s newest and largest mutual insurance company, Beneva. While its name might be new, the foundations of the Quebec-based firm are rich with history. The company was created in July 2020 through the merger of two of Quebec’s most popular and longest-standing mutual insurers: SSQ Insurance and La Capitale Insurance and Financial Services. Together, the combined entity has more than 3.5 million members and customers, over 5,000 employees, assets under management totalling more than $20 billion, and consolidated premiums worth about $5 billion. While those impressive figures set Beneva up as a force to be reckoned with in the Canadian insurance market, the firm’s core focus goes beyond growth and profitability. Beneva’s goal is to return insurance to its essence of ‘people looking out for people’ – and its name is a reflection of that. Bene refers to benevolence, while va (French for ‘go’) references movement, thus setting the mutual insurer’s course on a ‘movement towards kindness’ – something we all crave after the unprecedented challenges of 2020 and the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. “Beneva is based on more than 75 years

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of experience with recognized and reliable expertise in insurance and financial services,” says president and CEO Jean-François Chalifoux, the former CEO of SSQ Insurance. “La Capitale and SSQ Insurance were so similar in terms of our nature, our values and the way we conducted business that coming together made great sense; this really is a merger of equals. “By joining together, we broaden our

tioning ourselves among the largest insurance companies in Canada, while always remaining as a company that will put people first.” In the short term, Chalifoux says there will be “no drastic changes” for current members; the firm will continue its progressive and gradual integration while also setting growth targets and identifying opportunities for new distribution, product diversification and innovation.

“La Capitale has outstanding solutions in certain areas, and SSQ Insurance thrived in others. When we put the two together, we can offer a much more complete and suitable offering for the brokerage community” service offering in insurance and financial services for individuals, groups and associations. We have a unique and distinctive offering for Canadians where we can offer general insurance products, home, auto and commercial, as well as an extended suite of life and health insurance services, all under one roof. As Beneva, we have the means to grow our presence from coast to coast, posi-

Best of both worlds La Capitale and SSQ Insurance both had strongholds in Quebec before the merger, but they were also present elsewhere across the country in both the P&C and life and health insurance markets. Chalifoux hopes to use that consolidated scale, as well as strong relationships with the broker market, to accelerate Beneva’s growth nationwide.

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PROFILE Name: Jean-François Chalifoux Title: President and CEO Company: Beneva Based in: Quebec City Years in the industry: 29 Fast fact: Chalifoux spent 10 years working in Toronto; it’s where his two eldest children were born and learned to ski.

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PEOPLE

INDUSTRY ICON

“By coming together as Beneva, suddenly our share of the market is stronger, and our suite of products and services is more diversified,” he says. “La Capitale has outstanding solutions in certain areas, and SSQ Insurance thrived in others. When we put the two together, we can offer a much more complete and suitable offering for the brokerage community, which will help us to accelerate our growth in key areas like Ontario, Western Canada and the Atlantic provinces. “Beneva is strong in both P&C and life and health. If one sector experiences difficulties, another sector can rebalance the results. La Capitale was a major player in P&C insurance – home, auto and commercial – while SSQ Insurance was more of a major player on the group life and health side of the business. The

delivery, and our accessibility for the benefit of the consumer is another matter. Consumer expectations are continuously rising. Joining forces will allow us to not only meet but exceed those expectations for Beneva members and customers.”

The broker’s role Chalifoux stresses that brokers are important partners for Beneva as the firm seeks to build its presence nationwide. Despite greater digitalization and changing consumer preferences (driven recently by the COVID-19 pandemic), Chalifoux believes brokers will “remain at the centre of the insurer-insured relationship” because of the important advisory role they play for consumers, especially when it comes to more complex insurance solutions.

BENEVA BY THE NUMBERS

2020 Year Beneva was founded, following the merger of La Capitale and SSQ Insurance

3.5 million+ Total number of members/customers

“Consumer expectations are continuously rising. Joining forces will allow us to not only meet but exceed those expectations for Beneva members and customers” two are very complementary. In individual insurance and financial services, we’re doubling our size right away, with more products, more services and a deeper sales force across the country. I think we’re well positioned to face any challenges in the market.” While Chalifoux stresses that “scale is always relative,” he says Beneva’s increased size gives it the means to make efficient investments and accelerate its digitalization. Prior to the merger, both La Capitale and SSQ Insurance had major IT infrastructure projects in the pipeline. One rationale behind the merger was that, by joining forces, they could make those investments more efficiently and gain a better foothold into industry innovation. “This will allow us to do a lot more for the consumer,” Chalifoux says. “It’s one thing to invest in IT infrastructure, but to digitalize our processes and simplify our approach, our

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“Brokers offer choice, they offer personalized service, and their assistance in the event of a claim is welcome for consumers,” he says. “But at the same time, consumers expect more and more digital technology, and they want self-service solutions. I think there are opportunities for Beneva to work in partnership with brokers to develop and deliver those solutions. We can also fulfill customers’ demands for easier access to contracts, billing, insurance certificates and claims processing – and there’s an opportunity for us to work hand-in-hand with the broker community to achieve that. “At Beneva, we want to be as accessible and regional to consumers as possible. It will be up to the consumer to determine how they want to interact with us, but we truly value our relationships, past and future, with the brokerage community.”

5,000+ Number of employees

$20 billion+ Beneva’s assets under management

$5 billion Beneva’s consolidated premiums

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UPFRONT

OPINION

GOT AN OPINION THAT COUNTS? Email insurancebusiness@kmimedia.ca

Data’s competitive advantage The adoption of data-based imaging technologies can give property insurers an edge, write Upendra Belhe and Guy Attar PROPERTY & CASUALTY insurance represents $1.6 trillion in annual premiums – about one-third of the insurance industry – according to industry reports, and the homeowner’s insurance segment alone was worth $105.7 billion in 2020. As the industry continues to evolve, P&C insurance now benefits from risk models that analyze huge and diverse data sets. New data source influencers are emerging in the insurance industry, with the hope of providing the most comprehensive and accurate assessment of a property. Many times, data is generated during the reinsurance process. One normal path for the data flow of a reinsurer begins with pricing. The goal is to analyze the risk and develop pricing estimates, so a complete understanding of the property risk exposure of a cedant portfolio is important for both reinsurers and primary carriers to adequately price and negotiate risk. With property imagery, insurers now have a virtual way to closely view personal or commercial property and can easily validate property characteristics without leaving their desks. For customers, this makes doing business easier, as they no longer have to answer a seemingly endless list of questions. For underwriters and agents, this means increased efficiency at point of sale. For instance, owners might optimistically overestimate the roof condition, or brokers might offer their best estimate for the total square

footage. Advanced imagery-based data producers are making it more efficient to determine the condition and characteristics of a roof and accurately state square footage and many other features to allow underwriters to accurately price the risk. Inspecting a roof is a time-consuming and potentially dangerous endeavour, so insurance adjusters are increasingly using imaging.

Innovation: Are they persistently investing in research and development to add new attributes that were never available in the industry? For example, can they provide the height of a nearby tree and its distance from the property? Confidence: How accurate are the attributes? Are they measured based on 2D or 3D images? Can they provide attributes like the number of floors and total volume? How accurate are they in stating square footage for a property? Relevance: Can they make accurate damage assessment data available to the claims team post-event? How frequently can they provide updates to the property attributes? Can the claims team assess any roof damage – in the form of missing shingles or the presence of tarp on the roof – based on the updates? Cost effectiveness: Can they provide data for thousands of properties for a reasonable cost? Personal and commercial property insurers are finding it increasingly important to use accurate, newly produced attributes for their property risks. They are rapidly making such data an essential part of their workflows and decision-making. The landscape of prop-

“Insurers now have a virtual way to closely view personal or commercial property and can easily validate property characteristics without leaving their desks” When hail and wind events happen, image data can tell the insurance carrier which properties were impacted so they can deploy resources to the right areas and quickly estimate the cost of roof claims. In such instances, how quickly accurate data becomes affordably available post-event has a direct impact on the carrier’s bottom line. Insurers are increasingly competing based on internal and external sources of data. Thus, it is also important for carriers to stay up to date on known attributes and strive to obtain new attributes as they become available. In general, data producers should be evaluated based on four dimensions.

erty claims and underwriting is becoming a lot more data-driven and competitive, based on carriers’ ability to leverage newly available sources of accurate data. Only innovation-driven data producers that have advantages in multiple dimensions can create win-win scenarios for carriers. Dr. Upendra Belhe is president of Belhe Analytics Advisory, which helps businesses drive outcomes through data-driven insights. Guy Attar is co-founder and executive chairman of GEOX Innovations, a provider of property data for the insurance and real estate industries.

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03/02/2021 3:58:46 am


FEATURES

EXPERT ADVICE

The importance of trust in turbulent times What RSA Canada is doing to retain brokers’ trust during a period of uncertainty THE PAST 12 months have truly tested the resilience of our governments, healthcare systems and organizations in profound ways, as they’ve been forced to quickly take stock of their operations and, in many cases, embrace systemic change almost overnight. Amid the turbulence caused by this radical change, trust has become even more critical. For RSA Canada, this meant working closely with the industry and broker communities – within days of COVID-19 measures being announced by local governments – to swiftly implement changes and offer customer relief.

The top tenets of trust In partnership with RSA Canada, Insurance Business Canada conducted a survey last year, which found that 82% of Canadians trust their broker and believe the top tenets of a great insurance broker are honesty and integrity, good customer service, and product knowledge.

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According to the survey, the most effective business practices in gaining client trust – aside from area expertise – include simple policy language, cost transparency and the ability to provide sufficient information when discussing renewals and policy terms. The survey also showed that dealing with concerns in a straightforward manner and encouraging customer-led conversations go a long way in earning and maintaining client trust. “We recognize that the quality of the insurer-broker trust is reflected in the brokercustomer relationship, which was critical in a tumultuous year like 2020,” says Paul Lucarelli, SVP of personal and commercial lines at RSA Canada. “The market remains very challenging for our broker partners, and our capacity and expertise are needed now more than ever. To that end, we are doubling down on our commitment to retain our broker partners’ trust and engage them in open dialogue.”

For RSA, helping brokers foster and strengthen client trust has always been a priority. The insurer recently rolled out training for frontline staff, including underwriters and claims teams, to help them to be more proactive and empathetic when communicating with brokers. With many work-from-home mandates in place, RSA’s virtual education provides the insurer an opportunity to stay connected with brokers and equip them with relevant industry knowledge. Webinars and supporting material on relevant topics such as ethics and underwriting are all available on Wise Up®, a recently enhanced online learning platform exclusively available to RSA brokers. Throughout 2020, RSA’s communication with brokers reached an all-time high, and the actions taken by the insurer – including economic relief measures, uninterrupted service levels and customized education offerings – equipped brokers with updated information to counsel their clients. The results of this multifaceted effort to maintain relationships with brokers are telling; a recent poll showed that RSA had maintained the trust of 90% of its brokers during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and 16% said their trust in RSA was higher than ever.

Connection and continuity are key Never has trust been more tested than in the context of the global pandemic. While the first months of 2021 still hold a lot of uncertainty, this is the time for organizations to show up for their stakeholders. For brokers, this means connecting with clients early and transparently to maintain strength and trust in the relationship. “The unpredictability of the pandemic’s impact on the business was a big challenge in 2020, forcing us to be reactive versus forwardthinking, which is where we want to be,” Lucarelli says. “But by staying connected to our brokers and finding new ways of collaborating and adapting to change, we have emerged with a deeper level of mutual trust and a shared passion for growth. RSA is stronger than ever across our portfolio, proposition and people, and we are excited to grow with our brokers in 2021.” For more information on the steps RSA is taking to increase broker and customer trust, visit rsabroker.ca.

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SPECIAL REPORT

TOP 10 BROKERAGES

2021

TOP 10

BROKERAGES Prompted by the pandemic to up their game in 2020, this year’s Top 10 Brokerages tell IBC what they did to outshine the competition in a year of unprecedented challenges

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IN A WORD, 2020 was the year of COVID-19. In the midst of lockdowns and transitions to remote work, some brokerages simply did the best they could. But others faced down challenge after challenge – including a hardening market and shrinking capacity – and managed to not only drive record growth, but also become better brokerages in the process. For the eighth year in a row, IBC celebrates the brokerages that achieved significant growth over the past 12 months – a mix of bootstrapped startups, long-time operations, digital providers and award winners of all kinds. IBC’s method of evaluating brokerages ensures that companies of all sizes compete on an even playing field. In addition to focusing on metrics of size and volume – such as revenue and number of clients – IBC also evaluated brokerages on their year-over-year growth. On the following pages, this year’s Top 10 Brokerages reveal the moves they’ve made to overcome the challenges of the pandemic and offer their insights as to where the industry is headed next.

METHODOLOGY To be considered for IBC’s Top 10 Brokerages, each brokerage was required to provide key details about its business in 2020, including revenue, policies written, number of clients and profit margin. Each brokerage was then ranked according to 11 criteria:

TOP 10 BROKERAGES Insurance Group 1 Storm

COMPOSITE SCORE: 62

Insurance Group 2 Billyard COMPOSITE SCORE: 86

3 Surex

COMPOSITE SCORE: 93

Canada Risk 4 BMS Services COMPOSITE SCORE: 108

Revenue Revenue growth* Revenue per broker New broker growth* Number of clients Number of new clients Client growth* New clients per broker Policies written Policy growth* Profit margin Each brokerage’s ranking in each category was added into a composite score that determined the final ranking. A lower composite score thus equals a higher ranking. The majority of the criteria used by IBC recognizes growth and business volume per broker, rather than critical mass, allowing brokerages of all sizes to compete fairly. In addition, expressing metrics such as revenue growth and policy growth as a percentage of total business ensures that the very bestperforming brokerages make the final list. *Change between 2019 and 2020

M. Beck 5 Wilson Insurance Services COMPOSITE SCORE: 112

Insurance 6 Excel Group

(TIE) COMPOSITE SCORE: 125

6 Schill Insurance Brokers COMPOSITE SCORE: 125

(TIE)

8 Alteri Insurance Brokers COMPOSITE SCORE: 129

Financial 9 Western Group COMPOSITE SCORE: 134

10 Sharp Insurance

COMPOSITE SCORE: 141

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SPECIAL REPORT

TOP 10 BROKERAGES THE TOP 5 BY CATEGORY Brokerages of all sizes competed on a level playing field for the title of Top 10 Brokerage, as each category was measured as a percentage of total business. While some brokerages ranked in the Top 5 in each category did not place in the overall Top 10, their achievements still merit recognition.

REVENUE FOR 2020 TOP 5 AVERAGE: $67.5 MILLION

TOP 5 AVERAGE: 49%

NEW CLIENTS PER BROKER TOP 5 AVERAGE: 773

1

Alteri Insurance Brokers

1

BMS Canada Risk Services

2

Carte Risk Management

2

Surex

3

Sharp Insurance

3

Schill Insurance Brokers

4

Billyard Insurance Group

4

Costen Insurance

5

Keyes Insurance Brokerage

5

Leibel Insurance Group

NUMBER OF CLIENTS TOP 5 AVERAGE: 129,544

POLICIES WRITTEN TOP 5 AVERAGE: 186,807

1

Western Financial Group

1

Western Financial Group

1

Western Financial Group

2

Wilson M. Beck Insurance Services

2

BMS Canada Risk Services

2

BMS Canada Risk Services

3

Billyard Insurance Group

3

Storm Insurance Group

3

Storm Insurance Group

4

Purves Redmond

4

Billyard Insurance Group

4

Billyard Insurance Group

5

Storm Insurance Group

5

Schill Insurance Brokers

5

Excel Insurance Group

REVENUE GROWTH TOP 5 AVERAGE: 109.4%

NEW CLIENTS TOP 5 AVERAGE: 13,036

POLICY GROWTH TOP 5 AVERAGE: 107.4%

1

Alteri Insurance Brokers

1

Billyard Insurance Group

1

Carte Risk Management

2

Wilson M. Beck Insurance Services

2

Surex

2

Alteri Insurance Brokers

3

Billyard Insurance Group

3

Western Financial Group

3

Zapato Brokers

4

Fuse Insurance

4

Schill Insurance Brokers

4

Fuse Insurance

5

Magna Insurance Group

5

BMS Canada Risk Services

5

Billyard Insurance Group

REVENUE PER BROKER TOP 5 AVERAGE: $438,243

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NEW BROKER GROWTH

CLIENT GROWTH TOP 5 AVERAGE: 85.5%

PROFIT MARGIN TOP 5 AVERAGE: 49.3%

1

Guardsman Insurance Services

1

Alteri Insurance Brokers

1

Surex

2

BMS Canada Risk Services

2

Billyard Insurance Group

2

Carte Risk Management

3

Platform Insurance Management

3

Fuse Insurance

3

Magna Insurance Group

4

Purves Redmond

4

Storm Insurance Group

4

Storm Insurance Group

5

Wilson M. Beck Insurance Services

5

Wilson M. Beck Insurance Services

5

Excel Insurance Group

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10

SHARP INSURANCE COMPOSITE SCORE: 141

9

WESTERN FINANCIAL GROUP COMPOSITE SCORE: 134

Headquarters Calgary, AB

Headquarters High River, AB

Website sharpinsurance.ca

Website westernfinancialgroup.ca

What 2020 accomplishments are you most proud of? [It] was a really tough year for all of us, but we came together every single day and worked tirelessly to create plans and to make decisions together as a leadership team – decisions focused on keeping our employees safe, first and foremost. We were able to go completely remote in 48 hours; that is a huge feat. Through hard work, dedication, creativity and grit, we were able to grow in 2020.

What made 2020 a banner year for your brokerage? Realizing the potential there is for our brokers working remotely. Being able to offer that flexibility and safety for all our people made us realize that we can continue with some kind of work-from-home policy indefinitely. It’s all about work-life balance, mental well-being and being able to take time so we can be the best version of ourselves at work and at home.

“We became closer, more transparent and more coherent as an organization because we had the sense of all being in this together”

What differentiates your brokerage from the competition? Western’s ability to manufacture its own specialized products – supported by both domestic and foreign markets – allows for bettertailored coverage for customers and quicker turnaround time for quicker binding. Over 300 specialized support staff help our insurance experts deliver all our products with best-in-class service, as shown by our exceptional NPS scores.

What 2020 accomplishments are you most proud of? Our success in navigating the uncontrollable impacts of COVID-19 while staying focused and dedicated to our customers is a real source of pride. In response to COVID-19 restrictions, Western underwent a rapid adaptation of our business model, pivoting the work practices of over 1,800 employees to ensure our customers’ needs were met.

What made 2020 a banner year for your brokerage? What did you do differently last year? Communication. We communicated more than ever before. We became closer, more transparent and more coherent as an organization because we had the sense of all being in this together – whether it was through daily huddles or weekly all-staff updates. The power of open and honest communications should not be underestimated.

Finding innovative ways to cover our hospitality customers in a difficult market helped protect hundreds of Canadian businesses. We are proud of these efforts and of our Western Financial Group Communities Foundation for returning over $500,000 to our communities. Our robust pandemic response was recognized by media and contributed to an employee engagement score eight points above the industry average and above Canadian retail best-in-class scores.

What’s the biggest challenge facing brokers in 2021? The pandemic caused an immediate shift in how we transact with our clients and how we build relationships with our peers. Most things have to be done online now, and this trend will continue to be the norm in 2021 and beyond. We need to learn how to build trust and relationships and sell insurance primarily in a digital way now. That can be really tricky to do, but when done right, it can lead to incredible growth.

What’s the biggest challenge facing brokers in 2021? Accelerated by the pandemic, our industry is adapting to the digital age, and customers expect to access a broad set of products and services easily over multiple channels. When you layer on a hard market, it is crucial to provide expert advice through a variety of touchpoints to ensure adequate coverage for customers and build customer confidence and security.

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SPECIAL REPORT

TOP 10 BROKERAGES

8

ALTERI INSURANCE BROKERS COMPOSITE SCORE: 129

6

(TIE)

EXCEL INSURANCE GROUP COMPOSITE SCORE: 125

Headquarters Vancouver, BC

Headquarters Edmonton, AB

Website alteri.ca

Website excelrisk.ca

How did your brokerage get started? Founded in 2017, the company was bootstrapped by Joshua Krenus through the sales of life and living benefit policies. In 2018, Colin Brown, cofounder and COO of Canadian Direct Insurance, joined the board of directors and helped the company transition to a general insurance agency. In 2018, Alteri sold its first policy. Today, the company is home to 10 agents writing millions in premium.

What differentiates your brokerage from the competition? Alteri is a young agency with senior talent; therefore, the company is both technology literate and experienced in product. Alteri has received a lot of attention since inception, which has allowed us to gain early traction among markets and clientele. In addition, we started as a life insurance agency, which is extremely unusual and has given us the ability to be literate in both life and general insurance languages.

Tell us a little about your brokerage. For not even a decade, Excel has worked to grow from managing several million dollars in premiums in one office to more than $200 million across 17 locations – and we continue to grow. The group is a partnership of independent insurance brokerages that, together, form a Canadian network of full-service firms backed by industry best practices, administrative support and broad market access.

What differentiates you from the competition? Excel Insurance Group is driven by the entrepreneurial qualities of its partners because Excel owns no part of partner revenue and equity. As our industry sees insurance companies and brokerage conglomerates swallowing up local independent brokers, we see clients suffer through reduced market options and ‘packaged’ insurance solutions. Instead, Excel clients benefit from our ability to respond quickly, act decisively and deliver without compromise.

Do you have any big success stories from the past year? We acquired our first general insurance agency, Marquis Underwriting, which brings us more markets and more senior producers. In 2020, Alteri was nominated as Brokerage of the Year at the Insurance Business Canada Awards.

What’s the biggest challenge facing brokers in 2021? Last year proved to be a difficult one with placement. A lot of insurers have tightened their appetites even further, which is placing downward pressure on submissions in an already hard market. The biggest challenge for agents in today’s marketplace, as I see it, remains finding underwriting approval for new and remarketed risks. Part of the reason we are seeing more MGAs enter the business is due to this stress of insurer appetite. We look forward to seeing the market soften in the coming years.

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What are your specializations? The capabilities of Excel Insurance Group are vast and specialized. Beyond personal and business P&C and automobile insurance exposures, our expertise includes risk advisory, management and improvement programs, contract services, cross-border insurance exposures, Canadian regulatory compliance, and contract surety and bonding. Clients also benefit from our exclusive, proprietary claims management process.

Do you have any big success stories from the past year? Our partnership and non-equity holding model is a huge driver of our success. Finalized in December 2020, Excel welcomed a new partner, Lundgren & Young – now Excel & Y – to our group. This move sees an approximate 40% increase in the premiums managed collectively by Excel teams.

www.insurancebusiness.ca

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03/02/2021 4:53:27 am


6

(TIE)

SCHILL INSURANCE BROKERS COMPOSITE SCORE: 125

5

WILSON M. BECK INSURANCE SERVICES COMPOSITE SCORE: 112

Headquarters Surrey, BC

Headquarters Burnaby, BC

Website schillinsurance.com

Website wmbeck.com

What’s your brokerage’s competitive advantage? I think most businesses would say it’s their people – it’s no different for us. Hire great people then get out of their way and trust them to make great decisions. We believe an engaged and empowered team will outperform the competition every time.

What made 2020 a banner year for your brokerage? We just closed our most successful year ever because of our response to the pandemic. Five days before the lockdown in March, we had one-third of our team together working on employee engagement. A week later, we sent a video to the team, telling them of the fight we were in for and asking them to stand up and be counted. They did, in spades, and we never doubted they would.

“We just closed our most successful year ever because of our response to the pandemic” What did you do differently last year? We ventured into a couple new niches that had previously been difficult, underpriced and poorly performing. However, we changed our thinking and approach, which has resulted in amazing growth and a much better experience for the client. Also, dealing with the pandemic meant elevating our game with client-facing and internal technology.

What’s the biggest challenge facing brokers in 2021? The hardening market and shrinking capacity will be challenging for sure. The soft market was here so long that many in our industry have never experienced a hardening. This is going to get interesting. Here in British Columbia, we’re also dealing with significant changes to the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia’s product and pricing.

What can your wholesale or insurer partners do to help you write more business? We have great respect for our partners, but getting them out of their box is very challenging. Nothing is simple anymore, so we need them to be willing to look at things through a creative lens.

What’s your brokerage’s competitive advantage? We have one of the largest construction and surety teams in Western Canada. In addition to our in-house expertise in multiple areas of insurance and risk management, we offer products through our related companies that align with the multifaceted needs of our clients. Internally, we strive to make our brokerage a great place to work. We are always looking for new features that will support our team members. Recently, we implemented a holistic wellness program.

What made 2020 a banner year for your brokerage? In 2020, we welcomed two new offices, one in the Fraser Valley and one in Victoria, to our team. With that, we also welcomed 27 new team members, each with their own specialties and talents. This addition of new energy and expertise helped make us even stronger. As a result, we have been able to support our clients and grow our business. Furthermore, we have focused on implementing technology in order to improve the efficiency of our organization and the connection between our team members.

What did you do differently last year? In 2019, we ran a pilot work-from-home program. This gave us the opportunity to work out the hiccups in this transition with the benefit of time; it also gave our people and our processes a chance to catch up to the new working environment. As a result, when COVID-19 hit and most of our people immediately transitioned to working from home full-time, we were more prepared. We now have a greater appreciation for the importance of these technological implementations and have placed an emphasis on continuing to innovate and adapt early going forward.

What’s the biggest challenge facing brokers in 2021? The hard market and the effects of COVID-19 are still the two largest challenges facing brokers in 2021. The shift to working from home due to COVID has created hurdles for everyone in the industry. It has caused wrinkles in the usual processes, which have resulted in delays in marketing and underwriting timelines. Furthermore, there are capacity and rating issues in the market that remain a challenge for brokers. Finally, the insurance industry has also experienced an increase in regulatory changes; adapting to these requirements, given the current market, is a challenge.

www.insurancebusiness.ca 25

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03/02/2021 4:53:29 am


SPECIAL REPORT

TOP 10 BROKERAGES

4

BMS CANADA RISK SERVICES COMPOSITE SCORE: 108

Headquarters Ottawa, ON Website bmsgroup.com/canada

Tell us a little about your brokerage. BMS Canada Risk Services was established in 2013 with a focus on delivering specialized insurance solutions and brokerage services. Through client referrals, we also launched and became the headquarters for BMS’ Global Affinity division, leveraging our value proposition and Canadian experience to build out teams and expand similar services into Australia, New Zealand and Spain. More broadly, BMS is a global specialist broker. We recently celebrated our 40th year of operation and continue to successfully expand and diversify each year.

What made 2020 a banner year for your brokerage? What are your specializations? BMS delivers specialized insurance solutions and brokerage services specifically in relation to structured programs and alternative risk facilities. We work with more than 70 national and provincial partner organizations, representing hundreds of thousands of policyholders. Over the past several years, we have continuously diversified our specialty-focused Canadian business, most recently adding a private equity M&A team. We also provide wholesale solutions and deliver consultancy and advisory services on alternate risk transfer opportunities.

What differentiates your brokerage from the competition? Our business and culture are centred on our people, and as a professional service firm driven by human capital, our people are our greatest asset. By building a team of professionals with diverse skill sets and backgrounds, both within and outside of the industry, we have been able to deliver service and value to our clients and partners that is unique and authentic. In addition to our focus on workplace culture, from the onset, we have empowered our employees through investment in technology with quote-and-bind platforms that enable a seamless and educationbased user experience. This allows us to deliver value and remain focused on being a true specialist while supporting ongoing service delivery and positioning us for continued growth.

What accomplishments are you most proud of? Since launching our operations in 2013, we have consistently maintained a more than 98% client retention rate and a 90% staff retention rate. We know these two metrics are closely linked and credit our success in large part to our exceptional and dynamic team.

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In what was arguably the most challenging year for almost every profession, business and individual, it became more important than ever for a brokerage to deliver genuine and compassionate support, exceptional service and timely information. This is exactly what BMS Canada delivered to our clients and policyholders. From mid-March 2020, BMS began working collectively with strategic partners to develop a suite of content to support a range of professionals and businesses. [We] worked with our partners to create and distribute more than 50 tailored resources to thousands of clients and across BMS’ wider network. In addition to providing written resources, we partnered with content experts to deliver a webinars and virtual information sessions on topics ranging from business and practice risk, health and well-being, and cyber and privacy considerations, reaching over 10,000 insureds. Feedback has been incredibly positive, and we continue to see not only strong retention across our business, but also new business growth as a result of these efforts.

What’s the biggest challenge facing brokers in 2021? Effective communication and the ability to manage client expectations. The shift in the market, along with changing client demographics and expectations, brings both challenges and opportunities. Open and honest dialogue that is supported by evidence and communicated in advance of renewal dates is fundamental to maintaining longstanding relationships and to building sustainable growth. Ongoing investment in technology is also essential, but not at the expense of human capital, which will continue to be at the centre of our business value. Brokers need to find the right combination of human interaction and technology to continue to deliver value in a timely and meaningful way.

www.insurancebusiness.ca

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03/02/2021 4:53:33 am


3

SUREX COMPOSITE SCORE: 93

Headquarters Magrath, AB Website surex.com

have additional insights into rates and coverage. AI is setting us apart from the competition, allowing us to create efficiencies in both the pre- and post-sale process. We are also very proactive about getting customer feedback. We encourage our entire sales staff to reach out for a review request after every interaction, and we always follow up on those responses. These reviews are great tools for our customers to read and see that we are always responding and helping our clients, which equals more trust from new customers. It also helps us know how to better serve our customers and where to expand our development and growth efforts.

Do you have any big success stories from 2020? Tell us a little about your brokerage. Surex is an online insurance marketplace. We have more than 10 of Canada’s top insurance providers all working with us to help Canadians find the best insurance coverage at the best rate. No generic call centres, just good advice when you need it. We started the company in 2012 in a small town in Alberta and bootstrapped the business from the ground up. We have over 130 employees now across Canada working with us daily to help Canadians shop, compare and buy insurance online.

What’s your competitive advantage? Surex strives to be an innovator in the industry, using new technologies and methodologies to help us serve our customers in the best way possible. We are always leveraging technology, especially with automating workflows that have traditionally been labour-intensive within our industry. The transparency we provide is enhanced compared to traditional brokers due to our technology, which allows the client to

[It] was an interesting year to run an insurance business – there was a lot going on, for sure. However, we felt we were ahead of the game for the most part because we were already an online business, so we easily pivoted to a completely remote workforce. We saw lots of new growth within our teams, as well as with our client base, which enabled us to reach a large milestone this year. We made very strategic decisions on how we grew the business with some strategic partnerships, and even with the challenges of COVID, we have been able to maintain an aggressive growth strategy. We were recognized again this year on the Growth 500 list as one of Canada’s fastest-growing companies, we were featured on The Globe and Mail’s Top Growing Companies list, we won a web award for Outstanding Website Achievement, we were named a Top Insurance Workplace [by IBC] for 2020, and we were honoured to be nominated for Digital Innovator of the Year [at the Insurance Business Canada Awards].

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03/02/2021 4:53:38 am


SPECIAL REPORT

TOP 10 BROKERAGES What 2020 accomplishments are you most proud of? In 2020, we launched BIG University – our digital learning platform designed to empower BIG brokers with access to hundreds of hours of video and audio content, covering insurance and systems training, as well as industry trends. The platform development was led by our learning and development manager, Jennifer Fraser, and director of personal lines, Sylvester Slowakiewicz, bringing together input from all our teams to create an industry-leading training solution that powers BIG’s growth. We’re incredibly proud of the growth we’ve accomplished together at BIG in 2020. We continue to prove that BIG will consistently deliver profitable and sustainable growth year over year as we establish ourselves as a leaders in the brokerage space. Our plans for the years ahead are ambitious, and we’ve doubled our commitment to remaining a peoplefocused company, focused on empowering brokers with the tools, technology, training and resources they need to be successful.

What made 2020 a banner year for your brokerage? We discovered how resilient we are as an organization. At the beginning of the pandemic, it quickly became clear that the way we do business was going to change forever. We rapidly deployed technology and a new strategy to adapt. The result was that our teams came together like never before, our communication improved, and we became even more effective at execution. It turned out that the event we thought could separate us actually brought our teams closer together.

2

BILLYARD INSURANCE GROUP COMPOSITE SCORE: 86

Headquarters Welland, ON Website thebig.ca

Tell us a little about your brokerage. Billyard Insurance Group (BIG) is an industry-leading and awardwinning insurance brokerage in Ontario. Our family-run brokerage, founded in Welland in 1998, has recently grown to over 40 successful branch offices across Ontario, with an employee base of more than 500 staff. BIG’s rapid expansion was recognized on The Globe and Mail’s 2020 Report on Business – we were listed as one of Canada’s Top Growing Companies.

How do you maintain a competitive advantage? Adopting a culture of change and improvement has been key to our success at BIG. We are always evaluating and re-evaluating every aspect of our brokerage to ensure we are operating as efficiently and effectively as possible. We continually seek out opportunities to innovate in technology and operations and develop new ways to do things.

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What did you do differently last year? In 2020, we strengthened our commitment to technological advancement. First, we began developing our own software to resolve operational needs that were not being met by the industry-standard offerings. This has opened our teams’ collective creativity to greater possibilities, and we have committed to taking on larger projects to improve our organizational efficiency and effectiveness. We also embraced video technology as the primary form of our marketing, training and communications; it has empowered us to connect in a way we never thought possible. Providing our brokers with extensive market access and a streamlined platform for growth and development has been our top priority. Brokers and markets are becoming more advanced in how we do business, and we are continuously evolving to drive that change. We are extremely fortunate to have such strong and supportive relationships with our markets that will allow us to continually innovate the BIG brokerage platform.

What can your wholesale or insurer partners do to help you write more business? Connectivity remains the key. Brokerages need our insurance partners to enhance their technology, be responsive in sharing data and be capable of working with our technology to create meaningful integrations that help us manage our relationships effectively. Many carriers have made significant strides on this front in 2020, and it is with those partners that we see growth opportunities.

www.insurancebusiness.ca

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03/02/2021 4:53:40 am


1

STORM INSURANCE GROUP COMPOSITE SCORE: 62

Headquarters Dartmouth, NS Website stormins.ca

What are your specializations? We’re a multi-channel group of insurance organizations committed to partnering with insurance companies, insurance brokerages, partners, associations and other organizations to create and/or deliver custom solutions tailored to our clients’ needs. Our in-house innovation hub makes us very unique and provides us the ability to create and implement digital insurance solutions. The operations within the group include a retail personal lines brokerage, a commercial lines operation, an insurance MGA/wholesaler, a purely digital insurance operation and a dedicated group national call centre.

How do you maintain a competitive advantage? To be an established leader in the industry, we are creative in designing digital solutions that meet our clients’ insurance needs, [we] innovate new distribution models and form new partnerships, and we’re strategic in our planning and delivering on our goals. And when you have the right technology in place, supported by top talent leadership and teams, there’s no limit to what’s possible.

What 2020 accomplishments are you most proud of? Our most significant accomplishment has been achieving our Vision 2020 goal of doubling the size of our business and achieving complete national status with our most recent acquisition in Quebec. We expanded our in-house digital [capabilities] and innovation through the expansion of our in-house innovation hub. Our team enabled us to introduce system efficiencies, offer new insurance programs, and create a great customer experience in the quote, bind, and issue digital customer experience.

What else made 2020 a banner year for your brokerage? Our leaders and employees made the transition from the office to home-based working without service disruption or delays, allowing us to exceed our clients’ expectations. Our exponential growth rate also gave us the opportunity to create new jobs in the industry.

What did you do differently last year? During one of the most challenging years our country has endured, with the engagement of our national team, the Storm Insurance Group forged ahead with our strategic plans, acquisitions and growth initiatives. We were required to put our business continuity plan into

President and CEO Jamie Reid

action. Backed by two years of capital equipment investment for our employees, we were able to respond to the provincial state of emergencies due to COVID-19 and move 100% of employees to workfrom-home arrangements within 24 hours without a moment of customer service delay.

What’s the biggest challenge facing brokers in 2021? Insurance brokers are challenged with finding competitive insurance products and rates as insurance carriers leave specific markets and/or discontinue products. The hard market is affecting brokers’ ability to place 100% risk, leaving exposures for their clients. Additionally, with a limited pool of insurance professionals, we are all vying for top talent in a limited talent pool.

What can your wholesale or insurer partners do to help you write more business? With 40 years in the insurance industry, recognized for our leadership in innovation, we continue to create new insurance products and programs for our clients. As we expand our insurance programs and recognize the opportunity for growth is there, we look to our insurance partners to say yes and partner with us to build on our growth model.

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03/02/2021 4:53:45 am


SPECIAL REPORT

ELITE BROKERS

BROKERS 2021

IBC spotlights 25 Canadian brokers who overcame the challenges of 2020 to reach new heights of success DESPITE THE formidable economic and social conditions brought on by COVID-19, insurance brokers across Canada once again excelled. Hundreds of brokers persevered over the past 12 months – but none at the same level as the 25 professionals featured on the following pages. Whether they entered the family business or came to insurance with zero experience in the industry, this year’s Elite Brokers all earned their spot on the list by posting impressive figures in new business commissions or total premium volume – or both – over the last 12 months. Combined, the 2021 Elite Brokers placed more than $168 million in premiums and nearly $12 million in new business commissions for the year – a significant increase over 2020’s $147 million in premiums and $8.1 million in commissions. From a former auto detailer to enterprising immigrants and eager young upstarts, this year’s Elite Brokers truly represent the diversity and ingenuity of Canada’s insurance industry.

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METHODOLOGY Each nominee for this year’s Elite Brokers list was required to provide specific details about his or her personally generated business to be eligible. Brokers were evaluated based on new business commission volume and total premium volume achieved between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020. The top 25 brokers across both categories were recognized as an Elite Broker.

www.insurancebusiness.ca

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03/02/2021 3:21:30 am


CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS

YEARS AS A BROKER

$478,558

Average new business commission total per broker

671

4%

Average number of policies per broker

4%

32%

605

Average number of clients per broker

16%

Less than 5 5–10 11–19 20–29 30+

$6.7 million

44%

Average premium volume per broker

BIGGEST BOOKS RANK NAME

COMPANY

CLIENTS

1

Tony Di Corpo

Racine Chamberland

2,339

2

Morgan Roberts

Mitchell & Whale Insurance Brokers

1,772

3

Sheri Clay

J.T. Insurance Services (Canada)

1,252

4

Kevin Stedman

Jones DesLauriers Insurance Management

959

5

Graeme Bencharski

A-WIN Insurance

949

MOST POLICIES WRITTEN RANK NAME

COMPANY

POLICIES

1

Tony Di Corpo

Racine Chamberland

2,727

2

Kevin Stedman

Jones DesLauriers Insurance Management

2,040

3

Morgan Roberts

Mitchell & Whale Insurance Brokers

1,896

4

Sheri Clay

J.T. Insurance Services (Canada)

1,835

5

Sacha Poshni

Billyard Insurance Group – Mississauga East

1,042

SACHA POSHNI Broker BILLYARD INSURANCE GROUP – MISSISSAUGA EAST

Sacha Poshni is nothing if not persistent. When he started in insurance, he had only a phone and a phone book – no contacts, just himself and the drive to succeed. Over the past eight years, he has gone out of his way to help every client he and his team have interacted with. The secret to his success is simple, Poshni says: “Do the nicest thing you can for the person right in front of you. If you make a habit of that, you will be successful. The dollars don’t matter; the people do. Put them first, and everything else will fall into place.” As his business has grown, Poshni has doubled down on great service. “No one in this province should have to worry about whether or not their broker puts their best interests first,” he says. “I truly believe that we are just getting started and that our best days are ahead of us, and I am so thankful for all of the support I have gotten over the years.”

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03/02/2021 3:21:39 am


SPECIAL REPORT

ELITE BROKERS ELITE BROKERS BY NEW BUSINESS COMMISSIONS VOLUME RANK NAME

LOCATION

1

Justin Perry

Aon Reed Stenhouse

Ontario

2

Karim Chandani

HUB International

British Columbia

3

Mike Gerber

Monarch Insurance Brokers

Alberta

4

Gary Dhillon

InsureLine Brokers (Empire)

Alberta

5

Rupinder Hayer

Armour Insurance Brokers

Ontario

6

Michael Georgiev

Jones DesLauriers Insurance Management

Ontario

7

Gurpartap (Garry) S. Pandher

Able Insurance Brokers

Ontario

8

Morgan Roberts

Mitchell and Whale Insurance Brokers

Ontario

9

Simar Sidhu

Diamond Insurance Group

Ontario

10

Sam J. Feldman

Wilson M. Beck Insurance Services

Alberta

11

Matthew Studley

Hub International

Ontario

12

Connor Afcouliotis

Rogers Insurance

Alberta

Kevin Stedman

Jones DesLauriers Insurance Management

Ontario

13

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COMPANY

ELITE BROKERS BY TOTAL PREMIUM VOLUME RANK NAME

COMPANY

LOCATION

1

Kevin Stedman

Jones DesLauriers Insurance Management

Ontario

2

Sam J. Feldman

Wilson M. Beck Insurance Services

Alberta

3

Matthew Studley

HUB International

Ontario

4

Tony Di Corpo

Racine Chamberland

Quebec

5

Justin Perry

Aon Reed Stenhouse

Ontario

6

Gary Dhillon

InsureLine Brokers (Empire)

Alberta

7

Mike Gerber

Monarch Insurance Brokers

Alberta

8

Brent Williams

Wilson M. Beck Insurance Services

Alberta

9

Karim Chandani

HUB International

British Columbia

10

Michael Georgiev

Jones DesLauriers Insurance Management

Ontario

11

Rupinder Hayer

Armour Insurance Brokers

Ontario

12

Sheri Clay

J.T. Insurance Services (Canada)

British Columbia

13

Connor Afcouliotis

Rogers Insurance

Alberta

14

Gurpartap (Garry) S. Pandher

Able Insurance Brokers

Ontario

15

David Blow

Jones DesLauriers Insurance Management

Ontario

16

Morgan Roberts

Mitchell and Whale Insurance Brokers

Ontario

17

Sacha Poshni

Billyard Insurance Group – Mississauga East

Ontario

18

Simar Sidhu

Diamond Insurance Group

Ontario

19

Haaris Karimullah

Leibel Insurance Group

Alberta

20

Terence D. Cairns

Wilson M. Beck Insurance Services

Alberta

21

Joshua Krenus

Alteri Insurance Brokers

British Columbia

22

Ahmer Farouqi

Billyard Insurance Group

Ontario

14

Joshua Krenus

Alteri Insurance Brokers

British Columbia

15

Terence D. Cairns

Wilson M. Beck Insurance Services

Alberta

16

Matt Cruikshank

HUB International

Alberta

17

Sheri Clay

J.T. Insurance Services (Canada)

British Columbia

18

Tony Di Corpo

Racine Chamberland

Quebec

19

Haaris Karimullah

Leibel Insurance Group

Alberta

20

Ahmer Farouqi

Billyard Insurance Group

Ontario

21

David Blow

Jones DesLauriers Insurance Management

Ontario

22

Graeme Bencharski

A-WIN Insurance

Alberta

23

Sacha Poshni

Billyard Insurance Group – Mississauga East

Ontario

23

Graeme Bencharski

A-WIN Insurance

Alberta

24

Brent Williams

Wilson M. Beck Insurance Services

Alberta

24

Matt Cruikshank

HUB International

Alberta

25

Louis-André Morin

OVC Assurance

Quebec

25

Louis-André Morin

OVC Assurance

Quebec

www.insurancebusiness.ca

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03/02/2021 3:21:37 am


BRENT WILLIAMS Director, managing partner WILSON M. BECK INSURANCE SERVICES

After studying economics in college, Brent Williams was recruited into the insurance industry by a forestryfocused office in Prince George, British Columbia. He spent six years with a major commercial insurance brokerage, specializing in oil and gas, forestry, and construction risks. In 2011, he got the opportunity to join Wilson M. Beck and help establish an office in Calgary. “The biggest and most rewarding challenge was overcoming the dive into the large Calgary market,” Williams says. “I was brand new to the city, the smallest broker in town, and we clawed our way up to become a player in the competitive market we are currently in. That’s been incredibly fulfilling. I’d consider our success to be a result of persistence and hard work. Being competitive by nature has certainly helped, and having a fantastic support system in my business partners has been a huge ingredient in our success.” Passionate about his clients’ industries, Williams is a member of the Alberta Sand & Gravel Association, the Calgary Construction Association and the Alberta Road Builders & Heavy Construction Association.

MATT CRUIKSHANK Senior account executive HUB INTERNATIONAL

GURPARTAP (GARRY) S. PANDHER Sales director ABLE INSURANCE BROKERS

Growing up in a family of insurance brokers, Garry Pandher knew from an early age that he would follow in their footsteps. In 2011, his family’s brokerage, Able Insurance Brokers, hired him to

Matt Cruikshank has made a home for himself in real estate. While working on his CIP designation at Grant MacEwan College in 2003, he decided to specialize in real estate, particularly condominium insurance, and it’s been the foundation of his success ever since. “If you become a source of knowledge in your field, people talk, and you will get the referrals without the need to cold call,” Cruikshank says. “When you can speak the language of your clients, you become their trusted advisor, and that extra value you now bring is everything.” After nearly 20 years with HUB International, Cruikshank now helps lead the company’s real estate specialty practice. Proficient in large property schedules, he has put together multimillion-dollar accounts for multiple property managers in Edmonton. In 2018, he received the HUB Legend Award.

create marketing materials and TV scripts for advertisements aired across Canada. From there, Pandher got his RIBO license and started in sales. For the past five years, he has been helping to create a trucking division at Able Insurance Brokers, streamlining the training, sales and underwriting processes to maximize profit and customer experience. “We are able to insure some of Canada’s most complex commercial fleets because the base of our brokerage is solid and rooted with years of experience in the transportation insurance industry,” he says. Pandher’s current portfolio is mostly large trucking fleets and sizeable commercial property accounts. He attributes his success to his team and his commitment to constantly growing partnerships with insurers, brokers, safety managers, dispatchers, lenders and others. “Even in the hard market, our brokerage had tremendous growth and capacity,” Pandher says. “Due to everyone’s hard work, our brokerage is now able to place risks in our very own transportation insurance program and captive.”

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03/02/2021 3:21:49 am


SPECIAL REPORT

ELITE BROKERS

LOUIS-ANDRÉ MORIN Director, business insurance OVC ASSURANCE

MATTHEW STUDLEY Senior vice-president HUB INTERNATIONAL

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In 2011, Louis-André Morin made a career shift from working in the construction industry to providing insurance for it. Two years ago, drawn by the growing success and independence of its young leadership team, Morin joined OVC Assurance. Since then, the company’s commercial team has gone from two employees to 11 and has been constantly modifying its technical processes to support growth. “I really believe we owe our success to our teamwork,” Morin says. “The only way we can create a winning environment is by working all in the same direction, creating strong relationships and trust with insurers/partners.” As director of business insurance, Morin is committed to helping other brokers reach their full potential, understanding that a good sales culture and an open mind for personal improvement are both crucial elements of success as well.

Matthew Studley provides executive liability insurance and risk management consulting to some of the country’s largest financial institutions – ones with operations around the world. Investment management firms, insurance companies, private equity firms and pension plans are his specialty. In addition to consulting on a variety of liability matters and risk transfer solutions, Studley advises clients on corporate governance, investor lawsuits, regulatory investigations and claims management. “I have been very fortunate in my career to work with and learn from some incredible clients who are leaders in their industries and have also had fantastic mentors within the insurance sector to guide my advancement,” Studley says. “Our specialty division focuses on developing an understanding of what makes our clients’ businesses unique and asking detailed questions about their future growth strategies. This information allows us to best align our advice with the clients’ current and future risk management needs while making recommendations to their boards of directors.”

TONY DI CORPO Vice-president and damage insurance broker RACINE CHAMBERLAND

“I dedicate myself with great passion to my business,” says Tony Di Corpo. “I work hard, never give up and always strive to go the extra mile.” That can-do spirit has landed Di Corpo among IBC’s Elite Brokers for the fifth time. Since starting his career at Allstate, Di Corpo has spent four decades in the insurance industry, including more than 35 years as an independent broker. In his current role at Racine Chamberland, he specializes in the real estate, hospitality, transportation and industrial markets. “It is essential to remain focused on offering an outstanding level of customer service, dedication and proximity to your clients,” Di Corpo says of the factors behind his success. “You need to create an environment of trust and ensuring the best experience possible by being available and knowledgeable and listening to your clients’ needs. You also need to integrate niche expertise to your service offering. This will set you apart from other brokers, thus creating additional business opportunities.”

www.insurancebusiness.ca

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03/02/2021 3:21:52 am


GARY DHILLON President INSURELINE BROKERS (EMPIRE)

JOSHUA KRENUS President and CEO ALTERI INSURANCE BROKERS

For Joshua Krenus, success was in the details. In 2016, Krenus had his own auto detailing company, which gave him the opportunity to meet plenty of successful, well-to-do clients. One of those customers was Colin Brown, the co-founder and COO of Canadian Direct Insurance (CDI). After Brown sold CDI to Intact, Krenus approached Brown about starting an insurance brokerage – and in 2017, Krenus launched what would become Alteri Insurance Brokers. Krenus bootstrapped the company by selling life and living benefit policies. A year later, Brown joined the board of directors and helped the company transition into a general insurance agency. What started out as a two-person operation has grown quickly. “Three short years later, I have been recognized as a 30 Under 30 winner, Alteri has grown to a team of 10, and we write millions in premium,” Krenus says. “I couldn’t be more proud.”

To become an elite broker, service, education and profitability are essential. That ethos has helped propel Gary Dhillon to the next level. For Dhillon, it means growing the team at Edmonton-based InsureLine Brokers to provide the best possible service to clients. It’s a particularly impressive feat, given that the expansion happened during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We have hired nine people in the last year,” Dhillon says. “We started four more on January 1; three came on February 1. We went from four people 14 months ago to 18 people.” Dhillon adds that this level of growth requires a happy team. “We have a bonus structure that can get you up to about 30% of your salary,” he says. If someone is making $70,000, they can walk away with another $20,000. That’s actually for everybody – the receptionist, the accountant, the processor, people who aren’t directly involved with sales. Everybody is part of the team; everybody contributes.” It’s taken a lot of hard work to see the results of the past couple of years. Dhillon grew up in Edmonton and began his career in insurance working for a direct writer before starting his own brokerage in 2009. In the early days, he juggled many roles, including producer, CSR, processor, bookkeeper, marketer and any other jobs required to run the brokerage. He says days would often pass without him getting any calls. Still, Dhillon refused to give up, and eventually his perseverance paid off. Today, he has built a strong team with strong standards that can deliver an outstanding client experience. While still a full-service brokerage, his team specializes in long-haul transportation. “We believe in service; we take pride in that,” Dhillon says. “Our service is second to none. Our profitability, we’re running at around 35 points over a three-year period in long-haul transportation. Anybody we show our books to is impressed – 35% in transportation. Fifty is the goal in transportation so that these insurers can make a profit, but to be 15 to 20 points below the goal turns heads.” Dhillon values his insurer relationships and has been working with some of the best underwriters over the last few years, which he feels has been key to his success. Those relationships and service levels allow Dhillon and his team to maintain a retention ratio above 95%, but he views that as merely a starting point. “It can always be better, and we have to strive for that,” he says.

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FEATURES

ELITE BROKERS RUPINDER HAYER President ARMOUR INSURANCE BROKERS

As a new immigrant from India, Rupinder Hayer experienced racism from an auto insurance broker who told him, “Don’t go to a brown broker – they don’t know much.” “This comment came to me as a shock, and I took it as a challenge to change this perception,” Hayer says. After earning his RIBO licence, plus CAIB and CE designations, he set out to prove this stereotype wrong. His hard work and constant learning

propelled him to win the award for Insurance Broker of the Year at the 2019 Insurance Business Canada Awards. A tech-savvy strategist and visionary, Hayer attributes his drive, discipline and dedication to his background as a colonel and military pilot in the Indian Army. He specializes in building teams, developing new service platforms and strategizing growth; his core objective is to establish Armour as a national broker by 2022. Outside of the office, Hayer is involved with the Canadian Cancer Society, the Air Cadet Program, Peel Crime Stoppers and the Women and Youth Empowerment Centre. He is also a panelist on South Asian media channels and regularly hosts TV and radio shows.

KEVIN STEDMAN Partner, account executive JONES DESLAURIERS INSURANCE MANAGEMENT

SHERI CLAY Director, private client services J.T. INSURANCE SERVICES (CANADA)

Sheri Clay started her career in the cruise industry, but after giving birth to her first child, she was looking for a better worklife balance and decided to give insurance a shot. For nearly 20 years now, she’s been working with high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth clients. “It took some adjustments, but I found my niche and have never looked back,” Clay says. “I love working with my clients and take pride in knowing they will be protected if and when the time arises.” A colleague notes that Clay “treats the smallest clients, sometimes not even her own, fairly identically to her largest, most important clients.” And according to a client, Clay is “reliable and does what she says she is going to do. When she is working with you, you know everything is taken care of.”

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A leader in claims advocacy and coverage placement, Kevin Stedman has more than 30 years of insurance experience, which helps him adapt to an ever-changing marketplace and economy. Specializing in transportation and construction, Stedman says he is particularly proud of his team and the opportunities he’s had over the past year to share his coverage knowledge with his clients. “One of the biggest challenges that I’ve faced over the past year is the current market situation,” he says. “The most difficult aspect is delivering the news of an exorbitant rate increase to a longstanding client. My approach revolves around taking the time to help them understand the reasoning behind this with continuous communication and collaboration.” Stedman’s hands-on approach with his clients is a key factor in his success. “My mantra is to do what you say and follow through with it,” he says. “I visit my clients whenever and wherever needed and as their schedules permit. My success can be attributed to the great support network I have at the office and my incredible team.”

SIMAR SIDHU President DIAMOND INSURANCE GROUP

Born and raised in Punjab, India, Simar Sidhu wanted to experience life abroad, so he moved to Canada in 2011, initially working as a cashier at a gas station. Confident that he had a brighter future in store, Sidhu gravitated to the insurance industry, which provided him with a sense of belonging and confidence. After ranking as a top producer for two consecutive years, he decided to branch out and founded Diamond Insurance Group. Outside of the office, Sidhu is active in politics and is an executive member of the International Film Festival of South Asia. He’s also a member of the Punjabi Business and Professionals Association.

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KARIM CHANDANI Vice-president, hospitality HUB INTERNATIONAL

At HUB International, Karim Chandani and his team are focused on providing each client with the best service and options available in today’s challenging insurance market – an approach that helps clients in their time of need. Chandani understands the importance of partnering with his clients and serving as a trusted advisor to help them proactively meet their needs and solve their business challenges.

“Since we’ve signed on with HUB International, I have found Karim to be especially attentive to our needs,” says Clayton Hospitality’s Judy Sparks, one of Chandani’s clients. “He is an excellent communicator, and we have received relevant, timely correspondence from him regarding COVID-19 best practices, regular newsletters outlining pros and cons of specific COVID-19 issues, and general business advice. Karim has become a valued advisor, no different than our accounting firm. In the 52 years we have been in the hotel business, we have never

experienced this type of service, care and communication from our insurer.” HUB International has more than 13,000 employees and more than 500 offices throughout North America. The brokerage boasts eight industry specialty practices, including real estate, hospitality, transportation, healthcare and construction. “Providing insurance for a client’s property is one thing,” Chandani says, “but helping our clients connect to others who can help strengthen and grow their business is what I love to do.”

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SPECIAL REPORT

ELITE BROKERS

HAARIS KARIMULLAH Commercial account executive LEIBEL INSURANCE GROUP

Haaris Karimullah joined the insurance industry in 2019 with a goal to collaborate with Alberta transportation companies to provide them with comprehensive and affordable insurance programs. He works with everyone from owner-operators to large fleets with more than 100 units. “There is no challenge too large for a team willing to go above and beyond the status quo,” he says. “Our firm is dedicated to finding solutions for our clients, as we understand the challenges they face and the environment they are in. I am always looking for new ways to try to improve my product knowledge and further strengthen our relationship with our markets. We take pride in the knowledge we have in the transportation industry, as well as the solutions we have developed for the industry.” Karimullah says his success is simply the result of his strong work ethic and dedication. “You can have all the experience in the world, but without the obsession and commitment to solving a problem, this experience will go to waste,” he says. “I am fully committed to offering my clients the best possible experience.”

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SAM J. FELDMAN President and managing director WILSON M. BECK INSURANCE SERVICES

DAVID BLOW Commercial account executive JONES DESLAURIERS INSURANCE MANAGEMENT

After graduating from the University of Guelph, David Blow wasn’t sure what to do next. Luckily for him, his father has been in the insurance industry for more than four decades and encouraged his

For nearly 20 years, Sam Feldman has been providing expert advice and customized insurance solutions for clients in the construction, hospitality and real estate sectors. For the past two years, in his leadership role at Wilson M. Beck, Feldman has bolstered the company’s reputation for outstanding construction insurance services, while also fostering growth and drawing in best-in-class sales and support staff. “I believe the secret to my success has been surrounding myself with the right staff, empowering them to excel in all aspects of their personal and business lives, while constantly encouraging them to always provide a ‘whatever it takes’ model to every client,” Feldman says. “At the end of day, it is about strong relationships, and nothing is more important to me than that, from both a client and fellow employee perspective.”

son to follow his lead. In 2014, Blow was accepted into the producer development program at Jones DesLauriers, where he started as an account assistant before moving to account manager and account executive roles, eventually settling into a full-time production role. He currently specializes in brokering unique and hardto-place risks with an emphasis on real estate, construction and related services across Canada. As a young broker, Blow has had to overcome one significant obstacle. “One of the predominate challenges that follows youth in client-facing roles within the Canadian insurance industry is the perception of inexperience or incompetence,” a colleague says. “David has strived to make it a mandated focus through the development of his career in tackling these challenges head-on. He has accomplished this through his honest and transparent process when working with clients; collaboration with mentors and senior broker colleagues through a team-based, client-facing approach; and an absolutely unbeaten work ethic.”

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JUSTIN PERRY Senior vice-president and national practice leader, Environmental Services Group AON REED STENHOUSE

Justin Perry got his first taste of environmental liability insurance during a summer placement with a global insurer while he was a student at the University of Waterloo. “As this proved to be of great interest, several summers later, I had been able to tailor my academic career accordingly,” says Perry, who

eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and a master’s in environment and business. Over the subsequent decades, Perry has established himself as a leading expert in Canada’s environmental insurance space and currently manages the largest environmental insurance book in the country. He and his team of seven work on complex transactions and bespoke insurance contracts, partnering with Aon’s multinational team to provide locally compliant global solutions to clients. Outside of Aon, Perry hosts educational seminars across the country with leading environmental scientists, academic researchers and environmental lawyers. In his spare time, he is a scuba diver, skier, avid traveler and a pilot. “As a pilot, one must be prepared to face several risks with confidence, decisiveness and action,” he says. “A noteworthy moment of great challenge occurred early on in my flight training, whereby I arrived at my destination only to find out it was closed temporarily and had to put my planning into practice.”

CONNOR AFCOULIOTIS Business development manager ROGERS INSURANCE

Connor Afcouliotis entered the insurance industry in 2016 and, after gaining experience in everything from personal lines to captive placements, quickly developed a broad perspective on risk. This variety of experience has allowed him to build a strong knowledge base while fostering client, co-worker and underwriter relationships across the country. After spending time as a commercial lines account executive, Afcouliotis transitioned into his current role as a business development manager at Rogers Insurance at the beginning of 2018. Since then, he has written more than $11 million in new business premiums, 100% of which came from outbound sales. Even though he’s only been in the industry for five years, Afcouliotis is making his third appearance on IBC’s Elite Brokers list. “My success is the result of the excellent team atmosphere at Rogers,” he says. “My position allows me to pursue any size or type of risk, knowing that I have a support staff behind me with decades of experience.”

GRAEME BENCHARSKI Broker A-WIN INSURANCE

Alberta native Graeme Bencharski began working in the mailroom of his family’s insurance business when he was just 12 years old. Over the next two decades, his father helped him grow into the successful broker he is today, serving clients across Western Canada. “The 2019 insurance crisis served as a good training camp for the issues we would face in 2020,” Bencharski says. “The grit our office developed through the challenging prior year helped increase our skills to adapt to different and difficult situations. We continue to thrive despite the challenges 2020 has presented.” A-WIN Insurance is focused on disrupting the insurance industry and finding creative solutions for clients – all fuelled by good old-fashioned hard work. “We like to joke in our office that we work 48/7,” Bencharski says, “because we accomplish twice what the average person would in a typical day, and we never stop.”

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FEATURES

ELITE BROKERS MIKE GERBER Vice-president and broker MONARCH INSURANCE BROKERS

MORGAN ROBERTS Director of sales RH INSURANCE

After starting in the insurance industry in an administrative role, Morgan Roberts found herself drawn to sales. She earned her RIBO licence and has spent the past eight years in a sales role at Mitchell & Whale Insurance Brokers, earning a spot on IBC’s Elite Brokers list for four consecutive years. In January, she moved from Mitchell & Whale to RH Insurance to become director of sales. “I love this industry – there is always something new to learn and room to grow,” Roberts says. “I’m still learning something new every day and still looking at every call as an opportunity to make someone’s life better.” Roberts loves the problem-solving aspect of her job and prides herself on giving each customer the level of attention and service she would expect if she were on the other end of the line. “The secret to my success is simple – it’s just hard work and to never stop learning,” she says.

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In 2005, Mike Gerber had just been accepted into the astrophysics program at the University of Alberta – but before he began his studies, his aunt, a vice-president at Great-West Life, informed him that she had just hired several students out of the same program. “I figured if I was going to end up in insurance anyway, I might as well pursue insurance instead,” Gerber says. After completing his studies at Grant MacEwan University, Gerber worked for five years at The Co-operators Group in Edmonton before moving to the brokerage side at Monarch Insurance Services, where he focuses on cultivating relationships with compliance managers, suppliers, financing agents and dealerships in the trucking industry. “Navigating the evolving regulations and needs of the trucking and insurance industry is a big challenge,” Gerber says. “The reward is finding the solution to tie these two together.” In 2019, Gerber’s hard work paid off when Monarch made him a managing partner. The secret to his success? “Relationships,” he says. “It’s about who you know, but you don’t have to know them today – reach out and make those connections.”

TERENCE D. CAIRNS Vice-president, commercial lines WILSON M. BECK INSURANCE SERVICES

Six years ago, Terence Cairns began his insurance journey in the mailroom and in technical support and producer roles in the personal lines department of Action Insurance Group. From there, he moved into commercial brokering, followed by marketing and various leadership roles that culminated in him becoming an owner/shareholder of Action Insurance Group. At the end of 2019, he moved to Wilson M. Beck Insurance Services, where he is a business insurance advisor and broker. “I do it all and whatever it takes for my clients, partners and organization,” Cairns says. That includes focusing on medium- and large-scale risks in the construction, energy and hospitality sectors; offering niche coverage such as international and US placement for domiciled Canadian businesses; and providing specialty coverages ranging from D&O to contractor’s pollution liability. “I won’t be outworked by anyone,” Cairns says. “I read a ton. If I don’t know something, I will read until I become an expert. I have major drive. My customers are insanely special, and they are treated with ultimate care and professionalism.”

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COMMEMORATIVE GUIDE

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16 pm

A WORD FROM KEY MEDIA THANK YOU to everyone who took part in the fifth annual Insurance Business Canada Awards. After a difficult year that tested the resilience of many industries, these awards offer a true snapshot of the best and brightest in insurance and those who have stepped up and put their clients first at a time when it mattered most. This year, the Insurance Business Canada Awards celebrated and recognized excellence in the insurance profession across 20 prestigious categories, focusing on the achievements of the country’s best insurance professionals, teams and employers. It was wonderful to see such strong industry support for our fifth annual awards, and we would like to thank everyone who submitted a nomination and acknowledge our esteemed panel of judges for lending their time and expertise to the endeavour. The Insurance Business Canada Awards are brought to you by Key Media, publishers of the leading global family of Insurance Business magazines and insurancebusinessmag.com. We are proud to continue our tradition of celebrating insurance excellence in Canada and would like to congratulate all of this year’s winners. We look forward to bringing the insurance profession another successful awards event in 2021.

TABLE OF CONTENTS INDIVIDUAL AWARDS The Cansure Award for Insurance Broker of the Year

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Business Development Manager of the Year

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The Steamatic Canada Award for Woman of Distinction

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The PAL Insurance Brokers Award for Young Achiever of the Year

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The Empire Life Award for Life & Health Advisor of the Year

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The FIRST Insurance Funding of Canada Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Insurance Industry

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The LowestRates.ca Award for CEO of the Year

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Underwriter of the Year

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COMPANY AWARDS The Insurance Business Canada Readers’ Choice Award for Best Service Provider

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The Burns & Wilcox Canada Award for Big Brokerage of the Year

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The Travelers Canada Award for Brokerage of the Year (Fewer Than 10 Staff)

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The DSB Claims Solutions Award for Brokerage of the Year (10 Staff or More)

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The Versature Award for Digital Innovator of the Year

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The CNA Canada Award for Excellence in Philanthropy & Community Service

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Insurance Industry Employer of Choice

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The Armour Insurance Award for MGA of the Year

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The Insurance Business Canada Readers’ Choice Award for Best Advertising Campaign

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P&C Insurer of the Year

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The Advocis Award for Life & Health Insurer of the Year

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The Winmar Award for Excellence in Claims Service

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A CELEBRATION OF INDUSTRY TRIUMPHS

ONE ADJECTIVE in the English language really stole the show in 2020: unprecedented. It will go down in history as the year of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, of unprecedented socioeconomic and health challenges, of unprecedented lockdowns and travel bans – not to mention the year that digitalization flowered with unprecedented speed across many industries, including insurance. When faced with so many unprecedented challenges and changes, the Canadian insurance industry has been a beacon of support, strength and solidarity. Over the past 12 months, the

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industry has compressed multi-year digitalization roadmaps into weeks and months, incorporating technology to enable remote operating models while also improving the customer experience and increasing opportunities for product innovation. The brokerage community adapted quickly and imaginatively to a new reality where casual drop-ins and face-to-face business meetings were largely out of the question. They worked with carrier partners to find coverage solutions and premium relief for countless Canadians struggling to deal with the economic impact of the pandemic. And beyond COVID-19, the industry as a whole continued its quest to build stronger and more resilient communities across Canada, advocating for action on climate change and the development of weatherresistant solutions.

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METHODOLOGY 1. NOMINATIONS Nominations were solicited and received from a wide range of insurance professionals and organizations – including brokers, brokerages, insurers, underwriters, BDMs, MGAs, risk managers and service providers – from across Canada. Nominations were open from June 8, 2020 to August 7, 2020 and were free of charge.

2. RESEARCH

Celebrating success The outstanding work of the Canadian insurance industry in 2020 was celebrated at the fifth annual Insurance Business Canada Awards, which were beamed out to insurance professionals across the country on November 19, 2020. More than 875 attendees tuned in virtually to celebrate Canada’s brokers, brokerages, insurers, underwriters, MGAs and risk managers for their exceptional achievements, innovation and leadership in one of the hardest years the industry has ever faced. Insurance Business Canada received 499 nominations, from which 192 finalists from 115 companies were selected for 20 award categories by an independent advisory board. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the awards ceremony took on a brand-new virtual format; finalists were invited to engage in panel discussions in

between award announcements to share their successes and insights from the year. Despite having to stick to COVID-19 bubbles and celebrate from behind a screen, the champagne spirit remained high; attendees tuned in from coast to coast to hear more than 104 speakers take part in panel discussions, and the ceremony quickly became one of the most electric networking events of the year. Heather Masterson, president and CEO of Travelers Canada, which sponsored the award for Brokerage of the Year (Fewer Than 10 Staff ), aptly described 2020 as “a year like no other.” Reflecting on the awards, she said: “I can’t think of a better way to close out a year filled with change, disruption and resilience than to stop, pause and acknowledge the great work being done by insurance professionals and businesses across our industry. There probably hasn’t been a better time

“There probably hasn’t been a better time to showcase the tremendous work and efforts of our industry colleagues than right here, right now”

The Insurance Business Canada team conducted research and drew on knowledge and information gained through the magazine and website to supplement the nominations received and to ensure no one deserving of recognition was missed.

3. FINALISTS Once all nominations were considered and research was complete, finalists were selected in each category (except for the Lifetime Achievement Award) and notified. All finalists were then invited to complete a detailed submission that addressed the category criteria in more detail.

4. JUDGING All finalist submissions were forwarded to an independent judging panel composed of insurance industry leaders and senior representatives. The panel assessed and voted for the winners in each category according to the relevant category criteria.

5. WINNERS Using a simple points system to aggregate judges’ votes, the finalists with the top scores in each category were identified and named as winners at the virtual Insurance Business Canada Awards show in November 2020.

HEATHER MASTERSON, Travelers Canada

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to showcase the tremendous work and efforts of our industry colleagues than right here, right now.” Her thoughts were shared by fellow award sponsors. Tyson Peel, vice-president at Burns & Wilcox Canada, which sponsored the award for Big Brokerage of the Year, said celebrating “strong leadership and excellence” in the industry is “more important than ever” in these strange times. Terri Mason-Benjamin, vice-president of marketing and distribution at CNA Canada, which sponsored the award for Excellence in Philanthropy & Community Service, described the pandemic as “a pivotal moment” for the insurance industry. “This is coinciding with a hard market [with] lots of changes in the industry – reductions in capacity, increasing rates – so I think it’s really important for us to celebrate all the good that we do and all the

ways we can support clients while also maintaining our business and being around for the long term.” Individual award winners The fifth annual Insurance Business Canada Awards featured eight awards for outstanding individuals in the industry – and for the first time ever, all of the independently selected gold winners were women. This is a reflection of the immense progress the Canadian insurance industry is making in terms of gender equity, which hopefully will continue to flow into other aspects of diversity and inclusion. The FIRST Insurance Funding of Canada Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Insurance Industry went to Sharon Ludlow, corporate director at Lombard International. Ludlow is the former president and CEO of Swiss Re’s Canadian oper-

“I think it’s really important for us to celebrate all the good that we do and all the ways we can support clients while also maintaining our business and being around for the long term” TERRI MASON-BENJAMIN, CNA Canada

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ations, as well as the former president of Aviva Insurance Company of Canada. Stuart Bruce, CEO at FIRST Insurance Funding of Canada, described Ludlow as a “well-deserving” winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Reflecting on the 20-minute chat he had with Ludlow as part of the event, Bruce said, “Sharon never stops evolving or stretching her limits. I think that’s a great message to put out to anybody in any industry, but particularly the insurance industry. Certainly I can relate. Keep stretching, keep changing and keep evolving.” The LowestRates.ca Award for CEO of the Year went to Sukhdeep Kang of Ontario-based Armour Insurance Brokers. Kang has not only grown Armour’s portfolio extensively through her decade of leadership, but she has also worked hard to champion a culture that embraces change, particularly where technology and digitalization are involved. Meanwhile, the coveted Cansure Award for Insurance Broker of the Year went to Sheri Walters, SVP and strategy development leader for national broking at Aon Canada. Danielle Tkachyk, a broker at Savante Insurance, took home the PAL Insurance Brokers Award for Young Achiever of the Year.

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Company award winners The remaining 12 gold awards went to organizations. The three Brokerage of the Year awards went to independent firms in different provinces, reflecting the coast-tocoast excellence of Canada’s brokerage community. For the second year in a row, Atlantic Canada’s Archway Insurance came away with the Burns & Wilcox Canada Award for Big Brokerage of the Year. The DSB Claims Solutions Award for Brokerage of the Year (10 Staff or More) went to Alberta’s Sharp Insurance, and the Travelers Canada Award for Brokerage of the Year (Fewer Than 10 Staff) went to Winnipegbased Apex Surety & Insurance. Dara Singh Banga, president of DSB Claims, which won the WINMAR Award for Excellence in Claims Service, reflected on a panel discussion he led with the finalists for Brokerage of the Year (10 Staff or More). “It was very insightful to get the thoughts, wisdom and advice of broker leaders,” he said. “A lot of very relevant conversations were had around managing a multi-generational client base, teams and customers; around diversity and inclusion and mentorship; on growing the individual businesses and celebrating the success of those brokerages.” Property & Casualty Insurer of the Year went to Northbridge Insurance, whose COO, Lambert Morva, thanked the compa­ ny’s broker partners for their unwavering support. The Armour Insurance Award for MGA of the Year went to APRIL Canada, the Versature Award for Digital Innovator of the Year went to Insurego Brokers, and the Insurance Business Canada Readers’ Choice Award for Best Service Provider went to Applied Systems Canada. The 2020 Insurance Business Canada Awards were produced by Key Media, the organization behind Insurance Business Canada and insurancebusiness.ca. Thank you to everybody who tuned in to join the celebration, and a huge congratulations to all of the gold winners and excellence award recipients.

2020 JUDGES

Insurance Business Canada thanks our esteemed judges for lending their time and expertise to help recognize and celebrate excellence in the insurance industry

GRANT WAINIKKA

CARLA BLACKMORE

CEO Insurance Brokers Association of Manitoba (IBAM)

Vice-president Insurance Consulting Group

VINITA JAJWARE

GEORGE HODGSON

President Toronto Insurance Women’s Association (TIWA)

CEO Insurance Brokers Association of Alberta

PETER BRAID

JIM RUTA

CEO Insurance Brokers Association of Canada

The Re-Energizer

BRENDAN WYCKS

BOB TISDALE

Co-executive director Canadian Association of Financial Institutions in Insurance

President and COO Pembridge Insurance Company

DEREK LOTHIAN

BRETT BOADWAY

President and CEO Insurance Brokers Association of Saskatchewan

COO Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO)

GREG POLLOCK

ANNETTE PALALAS

President and CEO Advocis

Professor of insurance Humber College

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THE CANSURE AWARD FOR INSURANCE BROKER OF THE YEAR

This award of is one of the highest accolades given to an individual in the insurance industry. It recognizes the most outstanding insurance broker in Canada, who has best excelled at pushing the envelope with exemplary service, commitment to clients, innovation and growth.

GOLD WINNER

Sheri Walters Aon Canada

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER OF THE YEAR

AWARD SPONSOR

CANSURE is a leading Canadian insurance supplier servicing brokers across the country. As an open market, Cansure is accessible by all licensed brokers in Canada and seeks to be a first-choice supplier, offering breadth of products to protect both standard and non-standard risks across personal and commercial lines. Known for its creative underwriting solutions and expertise, Cansure continues to sustain strong financial security, supported by both global and domestic partnerships. For more information, visit cansure.com.

This award recognizes an individual BDM within the insurance industry who is pushing the envelope in business development, client service and education, and has demonstrated commitment to brokers and developing knowledge of markets.

GOLD WINNER

Diana Vardy

Travelers Canada

EXCELLENCE AWARDS

EXCELLENCE AWARDS

Matthew Ablakan Millennial’s Choice Insurance

Cathy Anderson RSA Canada

Terence Cairns Wilson M. Beck Insurance Services

Sharon Bajwa APOLLO Exchange

Sheri Clay J.T. Insurance

Michael Craig SGI Canada

Brandi Hitchens Jacobi Brien Insurance

Jill Fratpietro Canada Life

Morgan Roberts Mitchell & Whale Insurance Brokers Simar Sidhu Diamond Insurance Group Kevin Stedman Jones DesLauriers Insurance Management

“In these times, you need to come together as an industry. We’ve always been a really healthy industry. We’re certainly one that hasn’t been untouched by COVID, but by the same token, there’s been a large portion of our business that fundamentally hasn’t changed” GARY HORGA, Cansure

Vedran Hodzic Wawanesa Insurance Jeremy Matheson Zehr Insurance Brokers Cameron Mitchell Gore Mutual Insurance Josh Pillsbury APOLLO Exchange Sharon Sharma CAA Insurance

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THE STEAMATIC CANADA AWARD FOR WOMAN OF DISTINCTION

This award goes to an outstanding female trailblazer in the insurance industry, whose astounding personal and professional achievements have earned them a place among the industry’s best.

GOLD WINNER

ABOUT THE GOLD WINNER

Jacinta Whyte

Ecclesiastical Insurance

Jacinta Whyte

Ecclesiastical Insurance

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Sabrina Carbe Marsh & McLennan Gisela Carere Benchmark Benefit Solutions Jacki Detablan CNA Canada Melanie Jeannotte Gallagher Canada Jurenda Landry KASE Insurance Margo Lyons APOLLO Exchange Julia Marshall Sharp Insurance Jennifer Savage Cambrian Insurance Brokers Robin Shufelt Duuo Monica Woldring InsureLine Brokers

WITH 46 YEARS of international insurance experience, Jacinta Whyte is deputy group chief executive of Ecclesiastical Insurance Group and the general manager and chief agent of the group’s Canadian business. Under her leadership, diversity in its broadest sense is respected and welcomed across Ecclesiastical. The organization is a founding signatory of the Women in Finance Charter, a global initiative to promote gender balance at all levels across the financial services sector. “I would like to thank you for the great honour of being selected as the recipient of this year’s Woman of Distinction Award, a highlight of my career,” Whyte said. “I would like to recognize my fellow nominees, who are exceptional industry leaders, and extend my thanks to Steamatic and Insurance Business Canada for their commitment to the industry. I have had the great privilege of working with some amazing people and have been fortunate to have learned from great mentors and leaders. I have learned that you need a strong belief in yourself, the confidence to take risks and put yourself out there, and, most of all, to be genuine, open, empathetic, brave … and not take yourself too seriously.” The Ecclesiastical Insurance Group is on track to give £100 million to good causes by 2021, a goal Whyte has greatly contributed to. “My deep belief is that we have an obligation to make the world a better place – that we should contribute to the greater good and the communities in which we live and work, both nationally and globally,” she says.

AWARD SPONSOR

STEAMATIC is a world-renowned company specializing in restoration, disaster recovery and specialty cleaning. The Canadian division, founded more than 50 years ago, benefits from one of the largest franchise networks in the world. The Steamatic trademark (operating under BMS Technologies outside the United States and Canada) has been innovating year after year with representatives in the United States, South America, Europe and Australia. Steamatic Canada is now headed by Nancy Raymond, an elite entrepreneur recognized throughout Canada for having led a disaster banner since 2007. Accompanied by her experienced insurance and disaster management team, her goal is to develop the network to become one of the biggest players in the industry at the Canadian level. For more information, visit steamatic.ca.

“What still surprises me to this day is that women are still underestimating themselves. Maybe they’re not confident enough, or maybe they think they’ll be judged or that somebody else is better than them. But the strong leaders on this panel – they are empowering others” NANCY RAYMOND, Steamatic

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THE PAL INSURANCE BROKERS AWARD FOR YOUNG ACHIEVER OF THE YEAR

This award recognizes an outstanding young insurance broker who has shown the highest potential for greater leadership and has excelled at pushing the envelope with innovation and growth, garnering the industry’s attention and the respect of their peers.

GOLD WINNER

Danielle Tkachyk Savante Insurance

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Armin Habibi Insureit Group Aun Japanwala Lyon & Butler Insurance Brokers Haaris Karimullah Leibel Insurance Group Cody Macpherson KASE Insurance Ryan McKenna McDougall Insurance Brokers Gurpartap (Garry) S. Pandher Able Insurance Brokers Tiffany Reider Reider Insurance Adam Skube ONELIFE Wealth Management Cathy Su Park Insurance

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AWARD SPONSOR

PAL INSURANCE BROKERS CANADA has been Canada’s leading specialty MGA for more than 25 years. PAL was founded by Bob Morrison in Calgary in 1989 and expanded to include an office in Simcoe, Ontario. PAL is a family business and includes Bob’s wife, two daughters, grandson and granddaughter. PAL’s online platform is popular with brokers, as it allows quick and easy access to many of PAL’s programs. Responsiveness to brokers is one of PAL’s top priorities, whether in providing top-notch customer service or in the creation of several programs in direct response to broker demand. PAL can provide Canada-wide coverage for special events, fairs, festivals, exhibitions, weddings, contents in storage, exhibitor/vendor booth and kiosk liability, caterers, servers, performers, event planners, event cancellation, prize indemnity/hole in one, and miscellaneous property, as well as PAL’s newest program, collectibles insurance. PAL’s younger generation continues to lead PAL into the 21st century by responding to shifting customer needs and technological advances. For more information, visit palcanada.com.

“It was great to see all the young people in the industry, and they had some great insights into questions like how to retain millennials and Gen Zs and how to attract them into the industry”

THE EMPIRE LIFE AWARD FOR LIFE & HEALTH ADVISOR OF THE YEAR This award recognizes the standout life and health insurance advisor of the year. It is awarded to an individual who has best excelled at pushing the envelope with exemplary service, innovation, growth and commitment to clients.

GOLD WINNER

Salini Uthirakumaran Sun Life Financial

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Andrew Bradley AndrewWBradley.ca Financial Services Steven Burke CHES Financial Services Chris Karram SafeBridge Private Wealth Joshua Krenus Alteri Insurance Brokers Lyle MacDougall Bakerview Financial Solutions Dave Watson WFS Wealth & Financial Strategies Yingying Yuan RBC Insurance

AMBER MORRISON-GIVENS, PAL Insurance Brokers Canada

www.ibawards.ca

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THE FIRST INSURANCE FUNDING OF CANADA AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY AWARD SPONSOR

THE EMPIRE LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY is a proud Canadian company that has been in business since 1923. We offer individual and group life and health insurance, as well as investment and retirement products, including mutual funds through our wholly owned subsidiary, Empire Life Investments. Empire Life is among the top 10 life insurance companies in Canada and is rated A (Excellent) by A.M. Best. Our mission is to make it simple, fast and easy for Canadians to get the investment, insurance and group benefits coverage they need to build wealth, generate income and achieve financial security. For more information, follow Empire Life on Twitter @EmpireLife or visit empire.ca.

This is the highest honour at the Insurance Business Canada Awards. This award recognizes and celebrates a leading figure who has contributed much to the advancement of the Canadian insurance industry. Though there are no defined parameters, this award will acknowledge someone with an established history and reputation of distinguished service to the insurance profession, and who has exhibited leadership and provided inspiration to others in the sector and their own workplace while putting the interests of the industry at the top of their priorities throughout their career.

GOLD WINNER

Sharon Ludlow Corporate director

“What I particularly appreciated hearing during the panel was how each of the different carriers were doing something new and innovative in order to adapt to the situation we all find ourselves in” MICHAEL STOCKS, Empire Life

AWARD SPONSOR

FIRST INSURANCE FUNDING OF CANADA provides the Canadian insurance market with comprehensive payment solutions. Brokers, MGAs and carriers can partner with FIRST Canada and expand their offering to provide more value, choice and convenience for all of their clients. The combined strength of FIRST Canada’s dedicated team, evolved offering and innovative platform positions its partners to meet the demanding future of the Canadian insurance landscape. Armed with market-leading solutions for success, FIRST Canada is part of the Wintrust family of companies (Nasdaq: WTFC), with more than $43 billion in assets, and part of the largest premium finance companies in North America. For more information, follow FIRST Canada on LinkedIn and Twitter, or visit firstinsurancefunding.ca.

“Sharon never stops evolving or stretching her limits. I think that’s a great message to put out to anybody in any industry, but particularly the insurance industry. Certainly I can relate. Keep stretching, keep changing and keep evolving” STUART BRUCE, FIRST Insurance Funding of Canada

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THE LOWESTRATES.CA AWARD FOR CEO OF THE YEAR This award goes to the CEO who has demonstrated exceptional leadership over the last 12 months, bringing their organization to a new level of growth and success and stimulating the insurance industry.

ABOUT THE GOLD WINNER

GOLD WINNER

Sukhdeep Kang

Armour Insurance Brokers

Sukhdeep Kang

Armour Insurance Brokers

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Tracy Archer Knight Archer Insurance Brokers Cameron Copeland Cansure Sherif Gemayel Sharp Insurance Gary Hirst CHES Special Risk Chad Leibel Leibel Insurance Group Jeff McCann APOLLO Exchange Gina McFetridge Archway Insurance Tina Osen HUB International Tim Shauf The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group Silvy Wright Northbridge Insurance

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SUKHDEEP KANG lives on purpose and inspires others to be and do more. She is a modern-day hero, game-changer, mover and shaker, and role model. With courage, confidence, commitment and integrity, she inspires others to go further, making a ripple effect across her community and around the globe. Kang made history as the first South Asian woman in North America to own an independent insurance brokerage. This dedication and determination has made her more aware of women and minorities in the industry. Ninety per cent of her employees are women and of diverse backgrounds. She quickly discerns employees’ individual needs and moves efficiently to provide key information, recommendations or direction to help them become successful. Kang works hard to build a company culture around making service a priority. Armour has been a finalist for Brokerage of the Year three years in a row. This wouldn’t be possible without Kang demonstrating responsibility to her employees and the community, with a huge emphasis on service to customers and in the community. Kang truly leads by example. She holds numerous prestigious appointments, including director on the board of the William Osler Foundation, ambassador for Peel Crime Stoppers, director and founder of the Women and Youth Empowerment Centre, and board member of the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada. She is also a recipient of the Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award from ICCC.

AWARD SPONSOR

LOWESTRATES.CA is a fintech company founded in 2012 and based in Toronto. We are a free and independent service that helps people save time and money by allowing them to compare insurance, credit cards, mortgages and loans offered by North America’s leading financial institutions. For more information, visit lowestrates.ca.

“What I think is so fantastic is that the Insurance Business Canada Awards bring companies together that could be viewed as competitors, but for these awards, they come together, they share lessons learned, they share ideas, and they share experiences” JUSTIN THOUIN, LowestRates.ca

www.ibawards.ca

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UNDERWRITER OF THE YEAR

This award recognizes an underwriter whose expertise and outstanding service to brokers helps ensure proper coverage is placed efficiently and effectively.

GOLD WINNER

THE INSURANCE BUSINESS CANADA READERS’ CHOICE AWARD FOR BEST SERVICE PROVIDER This award recognizes the service provider that adds the most value to the business of insurance professionals, allowing them to maximize their business and help clients achieve their goals. Eligible service providers include but are not limited to CRM systems, website development, software and technology, legal, compliance, and training and education catered to insurance professionals.

GOLD WINNER

Emily Thompson

Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Cristian Altobelli, Markel Canada Caitlin Bartolini, Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company Kim Blenkhorn, Travelers Canada

Applied Systems Canada

BrokerLift

Faical Cheblaoui, CNA Canada

Custom Software Solutions

Lori Craig, RSA Canada

DSB Claims

Nicole Hachey, Intact Insurance Steve Hrab, Burns & Wilcox Canada Kelli Hunt, Next Wave Insurance Canada

Applied Systems Canada APPLIED SYSTEMS is the leading global provider of cloud-based software that powers the business of insurance. Recognized as a pioneer in insurance automation and the innovation leader, Applied is the world’s largest provider of brokerage management systems. By automating the insurance life cycle, Applied’s people and products enable millions of people around the world to safeguard and protect what matters most.

EXCELLENCE AWARDS

Alastair Cartwright, Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company

Steven De Piero, Northbridge Insurance

ABOUT THE GOLD WINNER

FIRST Insurance Funding of Canada Goose Digital Guidewire LowestRates.ca

Sydney Knowles, Cansure Deby Mottola, Youngs Insurance Brokers

Verisk Analytics Vertafore

Andre Prasad, CHES Special Risk Manuela Ziemer, Evolution Insurance

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THE BURNS & WILCOX CANADA AWARD FOR BIG BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR

This award recognizes the best brokerage operation with more than 100 staff members (or fulltime equivalents) in Canada. The number of staff includes all brokers writing business and support staff. To be eligible, the brokerage must be independently branded and headquartered in Canada.

GOLD WINNER

Archway Insurance EXCELLENCE AWARDS Billyard Insurance Group BrokerLink GTI Broker Group HUB International

AWARD SPONSOR

BURNS & WILCOX is North America’s leading insurance wholesale broker and underwriting manager, internationally recognized for its expertise in commercial and professional liability, property, marine, and personal insurance. Burns & Wilcox offers wideranging and comprehensive solutions to serve retail insurance brokers. Fuelled by its freedom from Wall Street and private equity, Burns & Wilcox is a privately owned company whose standards of service, depth of market relationships and outstanding talent are unsurpassed in the specialty insurance sector. Founded in 1969 and headquartered in Metro Detroit, Burns & Wilcox is a member of H.W. Kaufman Group, a global network of companies dedicated to shaping the insurance industry, employing more than 2,000 professionals in 60 offices across the US, Canada and the UK. For more information, visit burnsandwilcox.ca.

GOLD WINNER

Apex Surety & Insurance EXCELLENCE AWARDS Alteri Insurance Brokers Cheep Insurance Diamond Insurance Group Fuse Insurance

Millennial’s Choice Insurance

Sharp Insurance

Wells Insurance Services

Surex

Westland Insurance Group

This award recognizes the best brokerage in Canada with fewer than 10 staff members. The number of staff members includes all brokers writing business and support staff. To be eligible, the brokerage must be independently branded and headquartered in Canada.

Louis Meier Insurance Broker

Lloyd Sadd Insurance Brokers

Western Financial Group

THE TRAVELERS CANADA AWARD FOR BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR (FEWER THAN 10 STAFF)

“Celebrating success in the industry is more important than ever. We have a chance here to get out in front of people, to talk to people, to see how they’re doing in a different format and different environment” TYSON PEEL, Burns & Wilcox Canada

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“Celebrating success in the industry is more important than ever. We have a chance here to

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THE DSB CLAIMS SOLUTIONS AWARD FOR BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR (10 STAFF OR MORE)

AWARD SPONSOR

TRAVELERS CANADA is a leading provider of property & casualty insurance for home, auto and business across Canada. The Canadian arm of The Travelers Companies, we are part of an industry-leading organization backed by 160 years of experience and $103 billion worth of assets. Our expertise and focus on innovation have made us a leader in personal, business and specialty insurance and the only property & casualty company in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Every day, our 30,000 employees and 13,500 brokers and agents in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Brazil help deliver peace of mind to our customers. For more information, visit travelerscanada.ca or follow us on Twitter @TravelersCanada.

This award recognizes the best brokerage in Canada with more than 10 staff members. The number of staff members includes all brokers writing business and support staff. To be eligible, the brokerage must be independently branded and headquartered in Canada.

AWARD SPONSOR

Gillons Insurance Brokers

DSB CLAIMS SOLUTIONS is a claim management company founded in 2012 by Dara Banga. The company is dedicated to the principle that “claim service is customer service.” Beginning with a few staff members and a limited number of clients, DSB Claims has continuously improved and expanded its services to an ever-increasing client base. DSB Claims partners with insurance brokers and insurance carriers who are looking to unleash the value of their customers’ claim experience through personalized, accessible, relationship-based customer service. Our services align with and support the key performance indicators for our clients, whether they be service or financial. DSB Claims is continually building and aligning key infrastructure – staff, process and technology – to meet the needs of our expanding client base, ensuring we keep our founding customer service principle at the forefront of everything we do.

Hubbard Insurance Group

For more information, visit dsbclaims.com.

GOLD WINNER

Sharp Insurance EXCELLENCE AWARDS Armour Insurance Brokers Avant Insurance Brokers BMS Canada Risk Services

KASE Insurance

“I can’t think of a better way to close out a year filled with change, disruption and resilience than to stop, pause and acknowledge the great work being done by insurance professionals and businesses across our industry” HEATHER MASTERSON, Travelers Canada

Leibel Insurance Group Oracle Insurance Risk Management Services OVC Assurance Stanhope Simpson Insurance Storm Insurance Group

“I think celebrating success in the industry is more relevant now than ever with COVID. It’s something to look forward to, something to celebrate, a chance to pat each other on the back, and we should celebrate all our accomplishments and the industry generally” DARA SINGH BANGA, DSB Claims

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THE VERSATURE AWARD FOR DIGITAL INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR

This award is given to the organization that has best harnessed technology and digital solutions to improve their business, aid their staff and leverage overall client experience over the past 12 months. This category looks at the organization’s use of technology and digital resources, including but not limited to CRM systems, digital marketing, mobile technology, electronic document management, connectivity platforms and collaboration tools.

GOLD WINNER

Insurego Brokers EXCELLENCE AWARDS APOLLO Exchange BrokerLink CFC Underwriting Charles Taylor Adjusting Simply Benefits Storm Insurance Group Surex

ABOUT THE GOLD WINNER

AWARD SPONSOR

Insurego Brokers INSUREGO is an Ottawa-based insurtech startup founded in 2018 by IBAO’s 2011 Young Broker of the Year, Morgan Girouard. In a partnership with venture capitalist KYVR Connect, Insurego acquired insurtech platform Covera from Ferst Capital in 2019. The acquisition empowered Insurego to provide a futuristic e-commerce insurance experience to customers while also streamlining broker operations and back-office processing with BMS automation. Insurego takes a disruptive approach to lead generation by analyzing cleverly sourced data to avoid traditional ‘rate shoppers’ and engage high-retention customers online. The innovative use of data and algorithmic intelligence has produced a scalable formula that generates higher-quality leads with higher lifetime value. With two years of beta testing now complete, Insurego is expanding across the country with broker partnerships aimed at revolutionizing the industry by connecting traditional insurance products to modern digital consumers.

VERSATURE is the leader in Canadian SaaS-based business phone and communication solutions. Trusted by clients and partners across the country, Versature is an award-winning company that is raising the bar with the highest-quality phone systems, superior communications as a service and operational system integrations, and Canadian-based technical support. For more information, visit versature.com.

TD Insurance The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group Trufla Technology Unica Insurance UW Insure Wawanesa Insurance

“We’re not getting together as human beings and having free range to share ideas like this. That’s why I think events like the Insurance Business Canada Awards are incredibly important to keep going, particularly given current conditions” RICHARD BENNETT, Versature

Zensurance

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THE CNA CANADA AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN PHILANTHROPY & COMMUNITY SERVICE

This award recognizes an organization whose outstanding contribution of time, leadership and financial support over a sustained period of time (beyond normal expectations) has made significant impacts on the receiving causes or communities.

GOLD WINNER

Canada Life

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Aviva Canada Burns & Wilcox Canada Millennial’s Choice Insurance Park Insurance Preferred Insurance Group Red River Mutual The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group Western Financial Group Youngs Insurance Brokers

ABOUT THE GOLD WINNER

Canada Life AT CANADA LIFE, we’re focused on improving the financial, physical and mental well-being of Canadians – it’s the driving force behind everything we do. We recognize that the issues facing Canadians and the communities where they live can be complex and often connected to each other. We work to address complex issues like major health concerns, mental health, poverty, literacy and employability. We fund innovative programs that help a range of diverse and vulnerable people and communities and provide greater access to education opportunities, the arts, nature or recreational programs. We contribute to initiatives that foster civic pride and volunteerism, develop leadership, and encourage community and economic development. Through all of this, we celebrate our heritage and diversity. But we also understand that community-building takes more than simply writing a cheque. That’s why we’re proud that our employees are connected through a shared sense of responsibility, showing their support through volunteering and workplace campaigns. In 2019, Canada Life contributed $12.8 million to our communities across more than 700 education, health and wellness, arts, social services, and community development initiatives.

AWARD SPONSOR

CNA is one of the largest US commercial property & casualty insurance companies. CNA provides a broad range of standard and specialized property & casualty insurance products and services for businesses and professionals in the US, Canada and Europe, backed by more than 120 years of experience and approximately $45 billion of invested assets. For more information, visit cnacanada.ca or follow CNA on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

“There were many similar themes in terms of the impacts [the finalists] have had, not just on the communities they serve, but also the internal impacts and how these initiatives are affecting employee engagement and enabling them to inspire others” TERRI MASON-BENJAMIN, CNA Canada

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INSURANCE INDUSTRY EMPLOYER OF CHOICE

THE ARMOUR INSURANCE AWARD FOR MGA OF THE YEAR

This award recognizes a company’s commitment to building a workplace that prioritizes excellence and supports career growth for all. It rewards a company that has earned a reputation as an employer of choice within the insurance industry.

This award recognizes an MGA that offers superb service to brokers and is consistently proactive in educating brokers on products, while maintaining in-depth knowledge of financial markets and the competitive landscape of all product offerings.

GOLD WINNER

GOLD WINNER

Crawford & Company (Canada)

APRIL Canada

EXCELLENCE AWARDS

EXCELLENCE AWARDS

CNA Canada

ABEX Affiliated Brokers Exchange

OVC Assurance

Burns & Wilcox Canada

Red River Mutual

Cansure

RSA Canada

CHES Special Risk

Storm Insurance Group

Evolution Insurance

The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group

GroupOne Insurance Services

Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company

Next Wave Insurance Canada PAL Insurance Brokers Canada

Zensurance Totten Insurance Group Victor Insurance

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AWARD SPONSOR

ARMOUR INSURANCE BROKERS is a leading Canadian brokerage, recognized for its expertise in complex risks. Founded in 2010 by Sukhdeep Kang, Armour is headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, with operations in multiple provinces in Canada. Armour offers all kinds of transportation, commercial and personal insurance. Armour’s mission is to be the client’s advocate while protecting their assets with a high degree of professionalism, empathy and respect. Armour is recognized in the industry and among clients for its strong experience, responsive client service, excellent product knowledge, proactive risk management and loss control, and its unique claims advocacy processes. Armour’s strength rests in its diversified, knowledgeable and courteous staff. Armour is dedicated to its customers and insurance partners and is always striving for excellence in professionalism. For more information, visit armour-insurance.com.

“I think all the finalists for this award are doing a phenomenal job. I think they had great points on how they’re going to be forecasting for 2021, how their team-building is going to be and what service requirements they need to give to brokers” RUPINDER HAYER, Armour Insurance Brokers

www.ibawards.ca

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THE INSURANCE BUSINESS CANADA READERS’ CHOICE AWARD FOR BEST ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN This award recognizes an outstanding advertising campaign from the last 12 to 18 months. It rewards an individual campaign directed to brokers and/ or advice professionals in terms of its effectiveness, reach and creativity.

P&C INSURER OF THE YEAR

This award recognizes an outstanding property & casualty insurance company in Canada that provides top-tier property & casualty insurance products to consumers and businesses with an exemplary level of client service.

ABOUT THE EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNER

Unica Insurance GOLD WINNER

APOLLO Exchange

GOLD WINNER

Northbridge Insurance

EXCELLENCE AWARDS

EXCELLENCE AWARDS

Alteri Insurance Brokers

CAA Insurance

CHES Special Risk

Chubb Canada

Gore Mutual Insurance

CNA Canada

HUB International

Intact Insurance

Millennial’s Choice Insurance PAL Insurance Brokers Canada RSA Canada The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company

RSA Canada Travelers Canada Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company Unica Insurance

AS 2019’S incumbent winner of this award, Unica is incredibly proud and humbled to repeat as a 2020 Excellence Award winner of P&C Insurer of the Year. While Unica continues to deliver on its focused strategy to provide industryleading products and services to its brokers and policyholders, it does so in the belief that culture and people are the foundational elements of its success. By building and fostering an environment of trust and openness where everyone has an opportunity to share ideas and be a decision-maker, Unica continues to develop, attract and retain the industry’s top talent. As a high-net-worth personal and niche commercial insurer, this culture of excellence positions Unica well to continue serving the unique and specialized needs of its policyholders and its broker partners. Unica is committed to the Canadian market and broker partners. We believe in the importance of keeping Canada at the forefront of the insurance industry and do our part to bring a greater awareness to Canada’s strengths and capabilities. Unica is a subsidiary of Beneva, the largest mutual insurance company in Canada. Our products are delivered exclusively through a network of select professional insurance brokers across Ontario. For more information, visit unicainsurance.com or follow us @unicainsurance.

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THE ADVOCIS AWARD FOR LIFE & HEALTH INSURER OF THE YEAR

This award recognizes an outstanding life and health insurance company in Canada that provides top-tier life and health insurance products to consumers and businesses with an exemplary level of client service.

ABOUT THE EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNER

GOLD WINNER

Canada Life

Canada Protection Plan EXCELLENCE AWARDS Canada Life Empire Life Medavie Blue Cross TD Insurance

CANADA LIFE is a leading insurance, wealth management and benefits provider focused on improving the financial, physical and mental wellbeing of Canadians. For more than 170 years, individuals, families and business owners across Canada have trusted us to provide sound guidance and deliver on the promises we’ve made. As of January 1, 2020, Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life became one company – Canada Life – and today, we proudly serve more than 13 million customer relationships from coast to coast to coast. Canada Life is committed to putting the customer first – whether handling policy claims, growing and protecting clients’ retirement and investment savings, providing workplace mental health support for employers or helping build strong communities by investing in community projects. As an Imagine Caring Company for more than 30 years, we have contributed more than $200 million to Canadian communities. This includes $12.8 million in contributions in 2019.

AWARD SPONSOR

ADVOCIS, The Financial Advisors Association of Canada, is the largest voluntary professional membership association of financial advisors in Canada, representing more than 13,000 advisors in 40 chapters across the country. Advocis provides a platform of knowledge, advocacy, community and protection, advancing the value and professionalism of financial advisors and planners in the best interest of the consumer. We offer professional designations, continuing education, industry-leading publications and membership in a chapter network with mentorship programs, study groups and practice development resources. For more information, visit myadvocis.ca

“No doubt each of these nominees are providing toptier life and health insurance products and doing that with an exemplary level of service” GREG POLLOCK, Advocis

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THE WINMAR AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN CLAIMS SERVICE

This award acknowledges an insurance company, office or independent adjusting firm with a proven track record of providing clients with superior support. Whether it’s providing best-inclass assistance or reducing turnaround times, customer support is essential for client satisfaction. This award recognizes the industry player that has mastered that service.

GOLD WINNER

DSB Claims

EXCELLENCE AWARDS CFC Underwriting Charles Taylor Adjusting Crawford & Company (Canada)

ABOUT THE EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNER

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions AT SWISS RE CORPORATE SOLUTIONS, we believe that how a claim is handled can be as important as the outcome. That’s why we pride ourselves on dealing with every claim fairly and efficiently. We’re an experienced team of insurance professionals who place the customer experience at the centre of everything we do. We tap into our global network when needed, but we never forget the importance of regional expertise and a local, personalized touch. That’s why our customers always have a single point of contact for claims – someone who fully understands your claim and who will expedite it with both fairness and transparency.

AWARD SPONSOR

WINMAR IS a proud Canadian-owned and -operated restoration company with more than 90 locations coast to coast. All WINMAR franchises are independently owned and operated and are active participants within their communities for sports, culture and supporting such organizations as the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity. WINMAR believes in providing an excellent customer experience, and our philosophy is really very simple: We treat each customer’s claim as if it were our own, applying the same standards of quality workmanship that we would expect ourselves. For more information, visit winmar.ca.

Everest Canada HUB International Kernaghan Adjusters Louis Meier Insurance Broker Swiss Re Corporate Solutions Travelers Canada

“The panel discussion was an opportunity to connect with the nominees, and all panelists were very engaged and well deserving of their nominations for the WINMAR Award for Excellence in Claims Service” GLENN WOOLFREY, WINMAR

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A LOOK BACK: THE 2019 AWARD WINNERS The Cansure Award for Insurance Broker of the Year Rupinder Hayer, Armour Insurance Brokers Business Development Manager of the Year Jill Fratpietro, Canada Life The Steamatic Canada Award for Woman of Distinction Anna McCrindell, Travelers Canada

Underwriter of the Year Jason Court, Intact Insurance

Insurance Industry Employer of Choice FIRST Insurance Funding of Canada

The Insurance Business Canada Readers’ Choice Award for Best Service Provider LowestRates.ca

The Armour Insurance Award for MGA of the Year Cansure

The Burns & Wilcox Canada Award for Big Brokerage of the Year Archway Insurance

The Insurance Business Canada Readers’ Choice Award for Best Advertising Campaign Aviva Canada, “Ovation”

The Travelers Canada Award for Brokerage of the Year (Fewer Than 10 Staff) Fuse Insurance

The DKI Canada Award for P&C Insurer of the Year Unica Insurance

The DSB Claims Solutions Award for Brokerage of the Year (10 Staff or More) The Storm Insurance Group

The Advocis Award for Life and Health Insurer of the Year Empire Life

The FIRST Insurance Funding of Canada Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Insurance Industry Bob Tisdale, Pembridge Insurance Company

The Versature Award for Digital Innovator of the Year APOLLO Exchange

The Winmar Award for Excellence in Claims Service Crawford & Company (Canada)

The LowestRates.ca Award for CEO of the Year Lynn Oldfield, AIG Canada

The CNA Canada Award for Excellence in Philanthropy & Community Service Ecclesiastical Insurance

The iv3 Solutions Award for Excellence in Risk Management AUMA

The PAL Insurance Brokers Award for Young Gun of the Year Cole Leitch, Avant Insurance Brokers The Empire Life Award for Life & Health Advisor of the Year Joshua Krenus, Alteri Insurance

SPONSORS

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FEATURES

SECTOR FOCUS: CANNABIS

Growing pains With Cannabis 2.0 and consolidations front of mind, insurance experts weigh in on Canada’s unique market challenges and concerns for 2021

LAST YEAR, the Canadian cannabis industry continued to blossom – but it also experienced some growing pains. Newly legalized edible and ingestible cannabis products, commonly referred to as Cannabis 2.0, opened up both new markets and new exposures. The onset of COVID-19 seemed like a possible death knell for retailers until officials deemed cannabis an essential commodity, sparking a mini gold rush as consumers loaded up on grass to help alleviate the drudgery of lockdowns. And after a few years of ramping up capacity to meet demand, large players such a Canopy Growth, Aurora Cannabis and Tilray shed employees in a bid to achieve profitability; consolidations were everywhere. “We started off with a lack of supply and large demand in October 2018, when recreational was legalized,” says Bob Bousfield, vice-president and property practice leader at Strategic Underwriting Managers (SUM), which underwrites Canadian-domiciled cannabis businesses with worldwide exposure. “So then a lot of people jumped into the business, and, as naturally happens, you end up with the larger, more successful fish gobbling up the smaller fish. And that’s what we saw in 2020 – a lot of consolidation.” Now, in 2021, the US has set the stage

to legalize cannabis at the federal level, and insurers are still trying to figure out how to cover everything from micro-grows and greenhouses to edibles and cyber.

Cross-border boom? Jeff Somerville, SUM’s managing director, sees US federal decriminalization as a potential opportunity for more “cross-pollination of investment” across the border – and, of course, more business opportunities for the Canadian cannabis insurance industry. “Canada is a bit of a trailblazer when it comes to legalizing cannabis and creating a highly regulated national marketplace and industry,” he says. “One of the objectives of these government regulations and investment

in the sector is to become a global leader in the production of this commodity. Having our greatest trading partner open to us? That would be a huge boon in opportunity. “We’re hoping that the Biden administration may decriminalize the product federally, eliminating the conflict between state and federal law,” Bousfield adds. “Then all the Canadian producers will be able to export more product into the US. There are two that are currently doing it through joint ventures, but it would certainly open up trade and thereby boost our industry, which means more customers for us.” Lars Rittmann, a commercial insurance broker and account executive at Erb and Erb, says US decriminalization would also provide more information for actuaries to review, which could lead to lower premiums.

Other emerging issues Bousfield, who has been insuring the cannabis industry since medical marijuana was made legal in the early 2000s, is also focused on micro-grows and loss control engineering in 2021. He describes the former as “a bone the larger boys tossed to the smaller producers.” Micro-grows have restrictions of 200 square metres, a limited production quantity and can only sell to a large cultivator or the government. According to Health Canada regulations, their output is tested for forbidden pesticides and herbicides

THE GROWTH OF LEGAL CANNABIS SALES IN CANADA 2018

$58.8 million

2019

$1.2 billion $2.6 billion

2020

$3.8 billion

2021 (projected)

$0

$1 billion

$2 billion

$3 billion

$4 billion Source: New Leaf Data Services

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FEATURES

SECTOR FOCUS: CANNABIS

“You add bubblegum flavour or something that’s appealing, and all of a sudden someone who has no interest in cannabis or smoking will vape or they’ll go towards it because it is much more appealing,” she says. “It’s got a nice flavour. It kind of looks cool. So we’re worried about incitement-type losses.” Rittmann, who has been a medical cannabis advocate since 1998, is concerned about the lack of personal lines coverage for more expansive home grows. The legal framework in Canada allows most homeowners to grow cannabis for personal use – except in Manitoba and Quebec, owners can grow up to four plants, and most personal lines companies are agreeable to this in their policies. There are, however, limited insurance options for those growing more than four plants under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). “It would be a popular product if a personal lines company would offer a policy that would allow 10, 20 or even 30 plants maximum,” Rittmann says. “It would be a great step forward for the medical home grower beyond the commercial product now available. A limit on plants – 20 to 30 maximum – would be agreeable to a great many growers.” and contaminants. “You’re going to have a lot of the smaller producers, and that’s what we’re seeing probably this year and last year as well – a lot of micro-producers,” Bousfield says. Then there’s loss control. When writing property cover for cannabis growers, Bousfield highlights three key areas of risk: lighting, extraction and greenhouses. To avoid a possible fire from a high-intensity discharge (HID) light, he recommends his clients use LED, high-pressure sodium (HPS) or T5 fluorescent lighting. When conducting extractions for cannabis oils, he favours supercritical CO2 instead of extremely volatile organic solvents such as butane. And no one wants to write green-

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“The companies that are in the space know what they are doing and are doing it quite well” Lars Rittmann, Erb and Erb houses, he adds: “They’re not built to the proper standards.” For Bousfield’s colleague and fellow cannabis insurance vet Connie Peplinskie, a vice-president and manager of primary liability at SUM, the chief concern is Cannabis 2.0 products. Besides presenting unexpected health dangers, both vaping and flavouring run the risk of attracting young people to consumer cannabis.

He is concerned that special interest groups will get their way and the ACMPR model will be eliminated entirely. “Some of my industry contacts, educators and others are concerned the home growing private licence option may be removed by the government in the future,” Rittmann says. “This would mean that many people who had the ability to grow their own medicine will no longer have the access to do so. In some cases,

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they wouldn’t be able to afford the medicine if they had to pay for it out of pocket. I had a conversation with a woman whose son requires cannabis oils for his epilepsy. She said if she loses the right to grow her own medicine, she’d be going from $200 a month to $3,000 to $4,000 a month for her son.” Rittmann is also focused on educating his cannabis clients about cyber insurance in 2021. With everything from the timing of the lighting to watering and feeding controlled by computer, a cyber loss or hack could wreak havoc on grow operations. “For me, cyber is the biggest issue,” Rittmann says. “Large municipalities are being hacked. Large corporations are being hacked. No one is immune. Many of my

growers. That being said, the companies that are in the space know what they are doing and are doing it quite well.” Somerville, meanwhile, characterizes the cannabis market in Canada as suffering from a chronic scarcity of underwriting capacity. “US carriers continue to largely select against the segment due to home office discomfort with the moral hazard and/or conflict of laws between federal and certain state laws,” he says. “Lloyd’s took a similar view of this conflict-of-laws risk and exited a number of years ago, lumping Canada in with the US and declining both markets. There have been cracks in these positions, but most property capacity available today in Canada is via mutual companies and other

“We’ve been trying to encourage markets to sort of remove the stigma on this sector and wake up and smell the weed” Bob Bousfield, Strategic Underwriting Managers clients are not aware the Privacy Act changed recently and reporting a cyber incident is now mandatory in most cases.” There’s also the issue of medical privacy laws. Producers must thoroughly document every medical prescription – so if hacked, they could face considerable privacy exposures.

Market conditions In the cannabis insurance space, Rittmann says he hasn’t seen much change over the past two or three years; most of the original companies are still offering the same coverage. And where some industries have seen premium increases over the past two years, the cannabis market has been quite stable. “Some of the underwriting guidelines have changed,” he says. “They’ve tightened up their underwriting – they’re looking for more information, more transparency from the

FEDERAL CANNABIS DECRIMINALIZATION IN NORTH AMERICA

Canada October 2018 US and Mexico Expected in 2021

insurers that are more aligned to agriculturerelated business.” “In 2019, the whole property insurance market suffered some bad numbers and basically caused a lot of contraction in the marketplace in general,” Bousfield adds. “What that also means is that you’re not getting any new players brave enough to get into a new product like cannabis. Currently there are very, very few markets that are willing to write cannabis on a property. “I’m hoping that in 2021, the numbers sort of improve,” he adds. “They might finally take their goggles off and see that this is a very profitable and very regulated business and one that is probably the best growth potential for any market. We’ve been trying to encourage markets to sort of remove the stigma on this sector and wake up and smell the weed.”

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FEATURES

5-STAR INSURERS: HOME

Home

5-STAR EXCELLENCE AWARDS:

HOME INSURANCE Brokers name the best home insurance policies (and insurers) in the industry

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Home

AS THE SAYING goes, a person’s home is their castle. In the midst of a global pandemic, those castles have been doing double duty as offices as companies have scrambled to deploy work-from-home policies that have left many office buildings temporarily vacant. Now spending the workweek in a home office and most of the remaining hours living in the same space, many homeowners have been maintaining near constant oversight of their dwellings. This change in domestic living habits has helped prevent theft and fire and water damage while leading to a 10.26% drop in home insurance claims in Canada – saving insurance companies about $1.1 billion in 2020, according to Hellosafe.ca. As temporary working situations become more and more permanent, drastically changing work-life practices for the Canadian workforce, the home insurance market will likely see a similar or greater reduction in claims costs throughout 2021. Meanwhile, the work-from-home trend has led to some interesting dynamics regarding the repurposing of office buildings. “While some businesses are planning to make work-from-home more permanent and others are simply reducing their square footage, the office market is similarly being retrofitted for residential use,” reports HUB International. “Whether it’s a downtown high-rise or an old two-storey Art Deco office building renovated into condos, shrinking office space in highly populated areas will give way to a rise in residential properties.” Climate change has likewise had a major impact on the home insurance market. In 2020, extreme weather events, ranging from the Fort McMurray flooding to the Calgary hailstorms, led to $2.4 billion worth of damages in Canada, according to Catastrophe Indices and

Quantification, as well as $270 billion globally, according to Munich Re. And HUB International predicts that rates will rise between 15% and 25% or higher in areas exposed to catastrophes such as earthquakes, flooding, hail and windstorms. Whether from wind, hail, fires or flooding, Mother Nature is bound to be back in 2021 with increasing risks for homeowners.

“Following an increase in claims and resulting payouts, many [condo] insurers are retracting coverage altogether or increasing costs by as much as 300%” Tyler Wade, Ratehub.ca Meanwhile, condo and multi-family home insurance rates are also rising due to an increase in the frequency and severity of claims in the sector; a rise in repair, rebuilding and property maintenance costs; and general hard market trends. “Following an increase in claims and resulting payouts, many insurers are retracting coverage altogether or increasing costs by as much as 300%,” reports Ratehub.ca’s Tyler Wade. “Unfortunately, a building

WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT TO BROKERS WHEN CHOOSING A HOME INSURANCE POLICY? Very important

Important

Neutral

40%

50%

Unimportant

Very unimportant

Claims processing

Underwriting expertise

Competitive rates

Range of products

Available technology

Access to risk management partners

0%

10%

20%

30%

60%

70%

80%

90%

100%

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FEATURES

5-STAR INSURERS: HOME could lose its insurability and ask unit owners to assume responsibility of the damage and repair bills.” According to HUB International, “an uptick in claims in the apartment and condominium market due to fires, water escape, wind/hail and flooding have reduced the number of insurance carriers willing to write this class. For this reason, moving into 2021, multi-family residential can expect to see another 20% to 50% increase, along with

further increased deductibles in their general property coverage. Residential apartment and condominium properties looking to weather this storm will need to show underwriters what type of controls they have implemented to prevent common, high-frequency and -severity water and fire claims.” Together, these trends should keep home insurance providers busy in the coming year.

HOW WE CHOOSE THE BEST ‘Market-leading’ is a phrase many insurance companies like to use when describing their products. Now nine companies can claim that title on the back of hard market research from the people who matter most: insurance brokers. To select the best home insurance carriers for 2021, IBC enlisted some of the industry’s top experts. Throughout a 15-week process, our research team conducted one-on-one interviews with specialist brokers and surveyed thousands more within IBC’s network to gain a keen understanding of what insurance professionals think of current market offerings. Brokers were first quizzed on what features they thought were most important in a home insurance policy and then asked how the insurance providers they dealt with rated on those attributes. Insurers were measured on the strength of their relationships with brokers, ability to handle claims, underwriting expertise and, most importantly, the strength of the individual products they provide.

NUMBER OF AWARD WINNERS BY CATEGORY Dwelling coverage

Claims

8 Contents coverage

5

Customization

7

Personal liability

5 Underwriting expertise

8 High net worth

Customer service

8

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4

5

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Home

DWELLING COVERAGE Dwelling coverage is the component of home insurance that protects against the cost of rebuilding the structure if it suffers an insured peril such as a fire, lightning strike, windstorm, hail, explosion, vandalism and other hazards. Flooding, earthquakes and sewer backups usually aren’t covered but can be purchased as additional coverage. Typically, dwelling insurance covers both the home and any structures attached to it, such as decks, porches or attached garages. Insurance companies usually calculate dwelling coverage per square foot.

5-STAR EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNERS

CONTENTS COVERAGE Contents insurance covers the cost of damaged or lost personal belongings, including furniture, home accents, appliances and kitchenware, among other things. Usually, contents are insured as either new-for-old (which covers the cost to replace a damaged or lost item with a brand-new one) or replacement value (which covers the estimated value of the item and tends to drop over time). Typical policies have limits ranging from $1,500 to $3,000 per item, although highervalue items may be covered through riders or endorsements.

5-STAR EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNERS

Aviva

Aviva

Chubb

Intact

Intact Portage Mutual Red River Mutual Saskatchewan Mutual Insurance SGI Canada Wawanesa

Portage Mutual Red River Mutual Saskatchewan Mutual Insurance SGI Canada Wawanesa

PERSONAL LIABILITY

HIGH NET WORTH

Personal liability coverage pays for a guest’s claims of injury or property damage if the policyholder is deemed legally responsible; it often doesn’t cover members of the insured’s own family. A typical policy offers default coverage of approximately $100,000; with a higher premium, this limit can sometimes be increased to $500,000 or more. Personal liability coverage is similar to general liability, which covers accidents that happen on a business’s property.

More than just one type of coverage, high-net-worth insurance is an umbrella term for insurance products that protect high-value items such as expensive homes and cars, jewellery, and art collections. It can also include coverage for kidnap and ransom and personal and business travel, as well as coverage for celebrities and professional athletes. Due to the nature of the clientele, high-net-worth policies tend to be more customized.

5-STAR EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNERS

5-STAR EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNERS

Aviva

Aviva

Chubb

Aviva Ovation

Intact

Chubb

Portage Mutual

Intact

Red River Mutual

Portage Mutual

Saskatchewan Mutual Insurance

Red River Mutual

SGI Canada

Saskatchewan Mutual Insurance

Wawanesa

SGI Canada

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FEATURES

5-STAR INSURERS: HOME CLAIMS, CUSTOMIZATION, UNDERWRITING EXPERTISE AND CUSTOMER SERVICE A good reputation for handling claims was rated by the brokers IBC surveyed as the most important factor when choosing a home insurer – and a high level of underwriting expertise was a close second. The ability to tailor policies to the needs of individual homeowners can also be very valuable, and brokers are always happy to work with insurers who deliver top-notch customer service.

5-STAR EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNERS CLAIMS

UNDERWRITING EXPERTISE

CUSTOMIZATION

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Intact

Intact

Intact

Intact

Portage Mutual

Portage Mutual

Portage Mutual

Portage Mutual

Saskatchewan Mutual Insurance

Saskatchewan Mutual Insurance

Saskatchewan Mutual Insurance

Red River Mutual

SGI Canada

SGI Canada

SGI Canada

Mutual Insurance

Wawanesa

SGI Canada

Wawanesa

Saskatchewan

SUMMARY: 5-STAR EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNERS BY CATEGORY Insurer

Dwelling coverage

Contents coverage

Personal liability

High net worth

Claims

Customization

Underwriting expertise

Customer service

Aviva Aviva Ovation Chubb Intact Portage Mutual Red River Mutual Saskatchewan Mutual Insurance SGI Canada Wawanesa

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Home

PORTAGE MUTUAL INSURANCE – HOME INSURANCE Headquarters: Portage La Prairie, Manitoba Year founded: 1884 Employees: 250 Number of offices: 7 Leadership: John Mitchell, president and CEO; Wayne Wyborn, vice-president and COO; Jason Hannah, treasurer and CFO FOUNDED IN 1884 in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Portage Mutual Insurance has spent nearly a century and a half helping to insure Canadian dreams. For most, having a happy, healthy home is part of the plan. The company’s Homeowners Essentials package covers basics such as dwelling, structures, living expenses and personal liability; meanwhile, the Homeowners Enhanced product offers higher limits and extras such as $2 million in liability, identity theft, mass evacuation and more. But the thing that sets Portage apart is not necessarily the products, but rather consistency and stability in pricing and outstanding service. “People want to be protected,” says John Mitchell, president and CEO of Portage. “That’s why they buy insurance. It’s very hard to create a sustainable competitive advantage with products, so we try to do that on the service side.” The company’s service capabilities were stress tested last year. With COVID-19 forcing much of Canada’s workforce into work-from-home arrangements and others into dire economic straits, Portage adopted an increased level of flexibility. “We recognized that COVID created a number of financial difficulties for a number of people,” Mitchell says. “So we were very lenient in our policy with regards to payment plans and extending credit.” In addition to the challenges brought up by COVID-19, Mitchell says fire and cyber have presented coverage issues – as has water, caused by climate change events such as flooding. “The severity of storms has been generating a lot of water,” he says. “As we try to mitigate those exposures, that’s become a real issue. So I think that’s why you’re seeing the governments trying to invest in infrastructure, because I don’t think that’s going away. There are always

John Mitchell

issues that are going to come at us, whether it be weatherrelated, whether it be Mother Nature, whether it be healthrelated. Those things keep on coming, and it would be nice to be able to focus on those issues and try to make our workplace and our communities better.”

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WINMAR®, simplifying the claims process with cutting-edge

Claims Management Technology. Increasing Efficiency While Reducing Risk At WINMAR® we are continually improving our claims practices to streamline communication and documentation with Insurers. Implementing the WINMAR® ACE Program (Accountability Communication Expectations), coupled with the DocuSketch™ technology, we are simplifying and clarifying the claims process.

DocuSketch™: everything you asked for and more Capturing 360˚ images and efficiently creating accurate site sketches, DocuSketch™ instantly converts floor plans into Xactimate® and Symbility files for quick and easy download. Details every room in a single click Allows for efficient documentation through each phase of the restoration process Reduces risk of inadequate visual records Increases efficiency and reliability

Enriching our ACE Process by: Xactimate® and Symbility Delivery Sketches captured on site are delivered in an industry-standard format Reliability Combines 360˚ imaging with intuitive sketching tools to capture each detail Improved Communication On-site sharing of field visuals enables instant and transparent 360˚ documentation

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PEOPLE

BROKER INSIGHT

Time to evolve Navacord president and CEO Shawn DeSantis tells IBC how brokers will need to transform in 2021

THE CORONAVIRUS pandemic has resulted in many lessons learned for the insurance industry – and specifically for brokers, who will be shaped by the events of 2020 as they continue to plan for the year ahead. From their approach to their people and expertise to their focus on data and technology, many brokerages are now considering how their operations will need to change, as well as what challenges they will face as the hard market continues and where they can capitalize on opportunities. Shawn DeSantis, president and CEO of Navacord, has a few thoughts on how brokers can apply the lessons learned during the pandemic. Chief among these is that the value of broker teams cannot be underestimated. “Having our colleagues working in a positive environment and staying safe drives our business,” DeSantis says. “Creating flexible work options for our colleagues, being better communicators with our clients and using more non-traditional communication tools [are top of mind]. The go-forward change for our brokerage is the heightened awareness around these issues and the importance of building them into our operating model.” The pandemic has also underscored the importance of having the right risk advisors with insurance expertise and deep sector understanding. In this climate, the generalist

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broker with limited markets is no longer the right choice for commercial clients, DeSantis says. Accordingly, Navacord plans to place continued emphasis on sector specialization and will provide ongoing training for its risk advisors to ensure that they have a broad range of tools at their disposal, including access to legal advice, loss control, claims advocacy, and actuarial and modelling support. “Included in this is a deep relationship with a broad range of insurance markets so that the right insurance program with appropriate terms and conditions can be created for clients,” DeSantis says. “Clients are expecting more from their brokers, and insurance companies are being more demanding than ever on the quality coming from brokers. This, combined with the hard market across most commercial lines of busi-

ness, is significantly increasing the workload of brokers. Thus, having the operational expertise to deal with this environment is one of the biggest challenges brokers face.” Jones DesLauriers and Navacord’s Q3 Marketplace Insights report found that the two areas of Canadian insurance most impacted by current market conditions include property (across essentially all classes of risk) and directors & officers liability. And although other forms of liability insurance are still available for most industries, there have been reductions in capacity. These conditions will likely persist through the end of 2021, if not longer, but DeSantis says Navacord is well positioned to address these challenges, as it has been investing in the expertise, talent and development of its operational team and risk advisors

ABOUT SHAWN DESANTIS As president and CEO of Navacord, Shawn DeSantis’ mission is to build “a great Canadian insurance brokerage.” Navacord’s success has been fuelled by bold growth strategies, a commitment to innovation, talent development and a strong client focus. Under DeSantis’ leadership, Navacord has completed a series of both insurance company and broker acquisitions over the last several years. DeSantis’ extensive background includes nearly 30 years of international P&C industry experience, including progressive positions in the areas of underwriting, marketing, sales and finance. Before joining Navacord, he spent 10 years as executive vice-president at a global insurer.

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FAST FACTS: NAVACORD Key services Commercial, personal and surety insurance Employee and group retirement benefits Financial services P&C risk management Transportation fleet risk management Claims advocacy

Headquarters: Toronto Year established: 2014, through the merger of Jones DesLauriers Insurance Management and Lloyd Sadd Insurance Brokers Annual GWP: Around $2 billion Number of employees: 400+

“Clients are expecting more from their brokers, and insurance companies are being more demanding than ever on the quality coming from brokers” for a number of years. “The current hard market, combined with the pandemic, has really created an environment where ‘no’ or ‘we can’t get that done’ is becoming an easy and understandable

answer,” DeSantis says. “The opportunity is to move beyond that and find solutions for underwriters or clients that work for both parties.” Navacord’s focus on technology is also

of utmost importance in 2021. COVID-19 tested all brokers’ technology systems and needs, and the minimum investment in tech isn’t enough anymore if brokerages want to keep up with their competitors – as well as their customers’ and internal teams’ needs – in a fast-changing risk landscape. For Navacord, “the go-forward change involves technology moving to the forefront of our business,” DeSantis says. “[We believe] that technology will play more of role than ever in helping our colleagues perform, regardless of if they’re in an office or workfrom-home environment. Clients are rightfully demanding more, and at Navacord, this resonates well – but are others ready?”

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SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

FIGHTING FRAUD

Bracing for impact Dennis Toomey of BAE Systems Applied Intelligence tells IBC why he’s expecting a spike in pandemic-related insurance fraud in 2021

THE ECONOMIC impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been vast, and if history is any indication of what’s to come, the insurance industry should prepare for an increase in fraudulent activity. The pandemic has created rapid and unparalleled shifts in the way we live and work, and unfortunately, fraudsters are ever too quick to exploit these changes. They’re increasingly moving online, using sophisticated techniques to stay hidden, impersonate legitimate customers and file false insurance claims. “We are seeing more cases of opportunistic type fraud, most likely because of the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Dennis Toomey, global director of counter-fraud analytics and insurance solutions at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence. “People may be more motivated to do something they wouldn’t normally as a result of financial hardship.” Opportunistic fraud happens when a claimant takes advantage of a legitimate claim by exaggerating or claiming additional damages, whereas organized fraud refers to instances where the sole intention is to take advantage of the insurance system. This could be in the form of fraudulent medical clinics, repair shops or attorneys working together to defraud an insurance company. A staged claim can also be considered organized when it involves multiple parties – for example, in times of economic downturn, the industry tends to see more owner

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give-ups, where the insured claims their vehicle is stolen so the insurance company will pay for it and they can get out from under a lien. The rise in fraud as a result of this pandemic and economic crisis has yet to peak, Toomey says, but he expects organized and staged fraud to become more prevalent through 2021. Early on in the pandemic, the industry witnessed a decline in personal auto claims due to fewer vehicles being on the road and less opportunity to commit fraud;

however, as the pandemic wears on, the financial well-being of many is worsening. Google Trends in the US showed a 125% increase in searches for the phrase ‘how to set a fire,’ peaking in March at the height of nationwide closures and shelter-in-place orders. One of the most interesting trends relates to the increased use of telemedicine, which enables patients to seek medical help without exposing themselves or others to potential COVID-19 infection. According to BAE Systems, telemedicine “opens the door

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to a range of fraudulent activity,” including healthcare providers seeking reimbursement for services they didn’t actually provide and unscrupulous telemedicine companies tricking patients into buying things they don’t need. “This speaks volumes to the evolution of fraud,” Toomey says. “Telemedicine fraud can include excessive medical billing, unbundling, upcoding certain types of procedures or prescribing medicine they shouldn’t and then fraudulently billing insurance companies for it.”

“Insurance fraud is a crime, and it’s not victimless,” he says. “People don’t realize the impact it has on the cost of goods sold and the cost of a policy. The greater the losses, the more insurers will have to raise rates, and honest people will pay the price.” Technology and data sources can help brokers tune in to who they’re doing business with, too. When a claim is filed, insurers have access to a lot of data, and technology is being used to detect anomalies and uncover suspicious activity. Leading insurers are also placing considerable value on social media

“We’ve had a lot of government help, but when more people have to start paying their mortgages and rent again, we are anticipating a spike in the number of claims”

ANTI-FRAUD BEST PRACTICES

Prepare for the unknown The extent and severity of the pandemic is yet to be determined

Adopt a proactive, risk-based approach Where are vulnerabilities across the organization? What controls are already in place?

Dennis Toomey, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence With more people working from home, some might be looking for ways to take advantage of their workers’ compensation policies as well. “We’ve had a lot of government help through loans and stimulus packages, but when more people have to start paying their mortgages and rent again, we are anticipating a spike in the number of claims,” Toomey says. “I expect the severity of claims will be less, but volume will be high.” Going forward, brokers need to be extra vigilant when it comes to verifying client identification, as well as the asset that is being insured, either through a physical inspection or by using technology. Toomey says synthetic IDs, altered documents and identity theft are common. Having conversations with clients about the repercussions of insurance fraud is important as well.

to help mine for hidden information vital to fraud investigations. Tools already exist to automate social media investigations. “If a claimant has already been paid fraudulently, that doesn’t mean they’re out of the clear, either – the statute of limitations can be five to seven years for insurance fraud,” Toomey says. “Artificial intelligence and machine learning are helping carriers become more efficient in their investigations, while storing data and evidence of suspicious activity and mitigating the cost of fraud.” BAE Systems Applied Intelligence helps to protect more than 100 insurance carriers and affiliates against fraud and financial crime through anti-fraud software and services. The company also brings global insurance partners together to find solutions. “Someone could be in another part of the world committing fraud in your part of the

Adapt quickly Identify trends through increased monitoring of data and develop customized best practices

Improve communication Boost communication internally through daily briefs and externally with client materials and increased calls world,” Toomey says, “and if you don’t share intelligence, knowledge and experience, we will never be able to have the impact we need to when it comes to fraud.”

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FEATURES

RELATIONSHIP-BUILDING

Cultivating strong relationships in the digital age As online meetings have become the norm, one of the biggest challenges has been how to forge and maintain relationships. Mark Carter outlines four ways to do this with technology

THE SOCIAL DILEMMA, currently on Netflix, is the latest in a string of researched documentaries or studies adding credence to going ‘back to basics’ when it comes to human connection in this digital age. So many industry leaders, co-founders, executives and ethical designers are adding to the numbers voicing concerns over addictions to technology. Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive, notably expressed personal concern about the platform helping to create “tools that are starting to erode the social fabric of how society works”. It’s a telling sign that so many innovators or digital execs minimize their own offspring’s access to tools they have helped create. The digital age is here to stay as we continue racing into the future. It’s the manner in which we choose to use the technology in our hands that helps maintain strong relationships in a hyper-connected, tech-addicted digital age. The following are four ways to do this.

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Take off the masks

The first lesson can be learned powerfully from the words of a teenage girl during a seminar I delivered on human behaviour and human connection. “Oh, this explains so much! I get it. I was pretending to be really [emotional] to land the hot guy. Which I did! But then after a while it didn’t work because, you know, we’re just not that alike.” Authenticity is a powerful way of inviting or adding value into our lives and the lives of

biggest dirty little secret in business”. A lack of candour costs a business so much: trust, productivity, innovation, time, everything. The same is true for our personal relationships. They suffer when transparency is sabotaged or subterranean. If someone you truly value has upset you, tell them. Few people have developed the psychic ability to accurately or fully read minds! The digital age seems to breed the anti­ thesis of candour, with phenomena like ‘ghosting’ or ‘cancel culture’ taking off.

Authenticity is a powerful way of inviting or adding value into our lives and the lives of others. Pretending for the sake of connection often fuels more heartache or disconnection others. Pretending for the sake of connection often fuels more heartache or disconnection. Authenticity allows for a healthy stickiness over neediness. Our historical predecessors thousands of years ago might have been lucky to interact with 150 mainstay connections in a lifetime. These days, people invest so much time in filtering highlights for highlights, seeking to gain a far greater number from a single social post in the duration of a coffee break. Yet the price is significant. A short-term dopamine fix of surface, shallow or even fake loveliness from a digital collection of every Tom, Dick or Harriet bundled into one happy bucket labelled ‘friends’ often only serves to pull us away from the gems in this world.

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Embrace candour

Jack Welch, the late former CEO of GE, described a common trait seen in the digital age – regardless of whether applied personally or professionally – as “the

A conversation culture, rather than a cut-off one, is better for relationships and the social fabric of community.

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Speak a common language

We live in a world of 196 recognized countries and more than 7,000 known languages. More than half of the world’s population speaks the top 10 of these. Yet there remain two common languages we all understand that transcend differences, divisions and geographical boundaries. What’s more, neither of these requires the utterance of words. (And no, they’re not the languages of SMS or emojis! How often do you have to ask friends to help you translate these?) Kindness and love are languages the deaf can hear, the blind can see and that can bring light to the darkest of spaces. In fact, Robert Waldinger, the current director of perhaps the world’s longest study of adult life and development, shares in his “What Makes a

Good Life” TED Talk that the secret to a happy life turns out, after all, to be feeling loved and supported.

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Prioritize quality over quantity

The importance of human connec­ tion minus technology is rooted in scientific reasoning. British anthropologist and psychologist Robin Dunbar stumbled upon a magic number while studying the behaviours of primate groups. Applying the same modelling to our own primate group, the predictions about the size of social circles or the number of relationships that people can realistically maintain turns out to be surprisingly accurate: 150. This number has been prevalent through­ out history and is still typical of modern-day social circles, from the average size of the populations of English villages around the 16th century (160) to the number of guests typically invited to weddings today (148, from a study of 18,000 brides) or even the average number of Facebook friends (150 to 200). Among all your connections, consider how many relationships are truly meaningful or present in your world. Perhaps take note of who your 150 are and invest more in them than in strangers. Our humanity and the quality time we invest in relationships nourishes their longevity. Embrace and use technology as a great enabler and connector. Be less concerned about the rush for vanity metrics or popularity. And don’t be so busy rummaging in the digital rocks and stones that you miss the reallife diamonds. Mark Carter is an international keynote speaker, trainer and coach. He has more than 20 years of experience as a global learning and development professional.

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PEOPLE

OTHER LIFE

TELL US ABOUT YOUR OTHER LIFE Email insurancebusiness@kmimedia.ca

Va nHerwaarden ca me in second on the fourth season of MasterChef Canada

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Number of contestants VanHerwaarden competed against on MasterChef Canada

25

Approximate number of dishes she cooked on the show

8,989

Kilometres from her home in Vancouver to Italy, her favourite travel destination

CULINARY EXPLORER Axis Insurance VP Thea VanHerwaarden combines her passions for cooking and travel to make magic in the kitchen AS A FREQUENT traveller, Thea VanHerwaarden has acquired a love for a wide variety of food on her journeys. “My parents were big foodies, so during our travels, I was able to experience food from different cultures and restaurants,” says VanHerwaarden, who serves as VP of private client group and digital leads at Axis Insurance. “It turned into a love affair

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with food that has introduced me to so many wonderful opportunities.” One of those opportunities was the chance to compete on reality TV in the fourth season of MasterChef Canada, where she ultimately placed second. “Going into any competition is intense,” VanHerwaarden says. “Having it broadcasted on national television is even more

intense. I went into it, I think, a little naïve, but I learned a lot about food, cooking techniques and myself.” At home, VanHerwaarden continues to dazzle in the kitchen; her specialties are Mexican and Italian food featuring local West Coast produce. “I think I make fresh pasta at least three times a week,” she says. “You could say I’m the pasta queen.”

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