Insurance Business Canada 9.06

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INSURANCE EMPLOYERS Insurance professionals tell IBC which companies they love to work for PARAMETRIC INSURANCE

Why it could hold the key to a faster rebound from natural disasters

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Who’s offering the best service, expertise, pricing and more? Clients tell all


Ten companies that are delivering the technology brokers can’t live without

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ISSUE 9.06




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CONNECT WITH US Got a story or suggestion, or just want to find out some more information?

UPFRONT 04 Editorial





What’s next for a sector that has been hammered by the pandemic, climate change and a hard market?



As president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario, Joseph Carnevale has helped support brokers throughout the pandemic – and he’s just getting started

18 2

Key data that should be on your radar

08 News analysis

How parametric insurance can help communities recover more quickly from natural disasters

10 Intelligence

This month’s big movers, shakers and new products

12 Technology update

Embedded insurance gains traction with consumers

14 MGA update

How one MGA is tackling the challenge of personal cyber protection Why insurers’ innovation efforts often miss the mark



06 Statistics

16 Opinion


For the third year in a row, IBC checked in with insurance professionals to find out which companies are offering the best compensation, benefits, culture and more

When Doctor Who meets Lloyd’s of London



Insureds name 37 brokerages that have found the right blend of service and expertise

FEATURES 58 Leadership in the postpandemic workforce

Five ways to adapt to the changes brought about by COVID-19

PEOPLE 56 Catalyst for post-pandemic growth




Which companies are providing the best tech platforms in the business?

Marsh Specialty’s Richard Gurney on how the economic recovery will drive demand for construction insurance

64 Other life

In the classroom with insurtech CEO and philanthropist Joseph D’Souza


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“EXTERMINATE” the underperformers


icture this: Daleks – the violent and merciless cyborg aliens from Doctor Who – are gliding around the world-famous underwriting room at Lloyd’s of London’s Lime Street headquarters, but rather than barking their usual “EXTERMINATE,” they’re saying “REMEDIATE” while pointing their evil eyestalks at underperforming syndicates and lines of business. That’s essentially what has happened at Lloyd’s over the past three years – minus the Daleks, of course. At approximately 335 years old, Lloyd’s of London is by far the oldest insurance marketplace in the world. It also plays a critical role in the global insurance and reinsurance industry. Every day, more than 50 insurance companies, over 300 registered Lloyd’s brokers and a global network of more than 3,900 local coverholders operate in and bring business to Lloyd’s, taking advantage of the specialist underwriting expertise, thought leadership and innovative solutions the market has to offer.

Lloyd’s has managed to return to profitability and reassert its historic dominance as a world-leading specialty insurance marketplace Historically, brokers have also been attracted by the financial certainty of the Lloyd’s market – but this came into question in 2017 and 2018, when Lloyd’s suffered a dramatic decline in profitability, thanks to an uptick in natural disasters and the low interest rate environment, which was depressing investment yields. Enter the Daleks. In 2018, Lloyd’s took action to improve its underlying performance and restore profitability with the launch of the Decile 10 initiative. Lloyd’s managing agents were told to focus on the worst-performing 10% of premium for each syndicate and enact remediation plans. Failure to reduce expenses and bring the underperforming syndicates and classes of business back to profitability would result in plans being rejected and classes of business and syndicates being ... well, exterminated. Lloyd’s CFO Burkhard Keese recently revealed the impact of the Decile 10 initiative: Since 2018, managing agents and syndicates have remediated nearly £7 billion, or 20% of premiums. In doing so, Lloyd’s has managed to return to profitability and reassert its historic dominance as a world-leading specialty insurance marketplace. The effort proves that if insurers exterminate their weakest links and grow stronger at their specialties, we could eventually reach a global marketplace that is even more focused on expertise, value-added services, innovation and providing customers the best possible experience they could ask for. The team at Insurance Business Canada

EDITORIAL Managing Editor Paul Lucas Senior Editor Bethan Moorcraft Writers Lyle Adriano, Terry Gangcuangco, Roxanne Libatique, Pete Miller, Surina Nath, Gabriel Olano, Jonathan Russell, Ryan Smith, Ksenia Stepanova, Mia Wallace, Danny Wood Copy Editor Clare Alexander


Robert Lowe, Michelle Gibbings, Gaiti Rabbani, Nathan Baird

ART & PRODUCTION Designer Joenel Salvador Production Manager Alicia Chin Production Coordinators Kat Guzman, Loiza Razon Customer Success Coordinator Bernz Jalandoni

SALES & MARKETING Senior Business Development Manager Desiree McCue Head of Insurance – Sales & Marketing Cathy Masek Vice President - Sales John Mackenzie 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

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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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ut he

FUTURE FORWARD HERITAGE PROUD In our 150 years, we’ve experienced so many proud moments. But through all the progress, victories, and challenges, being there for Canadians when they need us most has been the greatest privilege of all. We’re honoured to continue to earn the trust of our customers and broker partners through truly innovative insurance solutions.

property | auto | business Economical Insurance includes the following companies: Economical Mutual Insurance Company, Family Insurance Solutions Inc., Sonnet Insurance Company, Petline Insurance Company. ©2021 Economical Insurance. Economical and Economical Insurance are registered trademarks of Economical Mutual Insurance Company. All Economical intellectual property belongs to Economical Mutual Insurance Company.

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10/11/2021 1:01:00 am






Global 2%








Global M&A deals in second quarter of 2021, the highest of any Q2 on record


Global M&A deals during the same period last year

$414 million Median deal value in the second quarter of 2021



-4% -6%

GWP DECLINE NOT AS BAD AS EXPECTED Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic triggered the worst economic recession since World War II, but the impact on the insurance industry was less severe than initially feared. According to Allianz, global GWP fell by 2.1% in 2020 – almost double the decline witnessed during the global financial crisis in 2009, but less than the insurer’s preliminary estimate of just under 4%. The industry was buoyed by the P&C segment, which recorded positive growth globally. Allianz credited the segment’s resilience to a rapid and smooth transition to digital operations, which allowed acquisition of new business to continue amid mobility restrictions. The life segment, on the other hand, saw significant declines in every region but Asia, which Allianz attributed to its more complex and advice-intensive products.

North America 2% 0% -2% -4% -6%

GLOBAL P&C RISK POOL TO MORE THAN DOUBLE BY 2040 Global P&C premiums are projected to grow by US$2.5 trillion over the next 20 years, according to the latest forecast from Swiss Re, which expects property and liability cover to take a greater share of premiums at the expense of motor. Emerging markets are also projected to contribute more to global premiums over the next two decades.







Advanced markets

Emerging markets ex-China China

$21 billion

Largest M&A deal during the period (7-Eleven’s acquisition of Speedway) Source: M&A Quarterly Deal Performance Monitor, Q2 2021, Willis Towers Watson; all figures in US$


21% 2020 42% 12% (ESTIMATE) 25%


25% 13%

2040 (FORECAST) 29%



10% 2020 (ESTIMATE) 80%


2040 (FORECAST) 67% Source: Sigma 4/2021, Swiss Re

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Rest of world 6%

Western Europe



Many businesses are now extremely reliant on digital technology – but according to Aon’s latest study on cyber risk, fewer than half of the companies surveyed had satisfactory levels of preparedness across four critical areas: digital evolution, third-party risk, ransomware and regulation.














-6% -8%

of organizations said they have adequate strategies to address remote work risks



Asia (excluding Japan)

of firms said they have baseline measures for overseeing critical suppliers and vendors

6% 4%





of companies reported having sufficient resilience measures against ransomware


4% 2% 0%

36% of organizations said they have ample levels of data security preparedness Source: Insurance Report 2021, Allianz

Source: 2021 Cyber Security Risk Report, Aon



Global dedicated capital for reinsurance has kept up its growth trend – Willis Re reported US$688 billion of total reinsurance capital at the halfway point of 2021, a 4.3% increase from the end of 2020. Since 2015, reinsurance capital has grown by 61%, at an average annual pace of 6%.

Construction is one of the main drivers of the global post-COVID-19 economic recovery, stoking demand for construction insurance. In its latest report on the sector, Marsh projected that emerging markets in Asia-Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa will experience the most growth in construction over the next decade due to growing populations and rapid urbanization.


Major regional and local reinsurers

Alternative capital


2018 $526 billion 2019 $615 billion


2020 $660 billion


5% 4% 3%

1% 0%

H1 2021 $688 billion Source: Reinsurance Market Report, September 2021, Willis Re; all figures in US$






North Latin Western America America Europe






Eastern Middle East/ Sub- Asia-Pacific Asia-Pacific Europe North Africa Saharan (developed) (emerging) Africa Source: The Future of Construction Report, Marsh

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A new era for parametric insurance After a summer of extreme weather events, the pressure is mounting on the insurance industry to explore new innovations to help communities recover from catastrophic events – and that’s put parametric insurance products in the spotlight IN AUGUST, a parametric insurance policy written by the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) was triggered by the 7.2-magnitude quake in Haiti, delivering a record payment of US$40 million. Within a week of the disaster, CCRIF had paid US$15 million of the claim to the Haiti government, shining a spotlight on how

The growing frequency of natural catastrophes around the world has resulted in substantial economic losses and adverse social impacts, and Mäder says this frequency is likely to continue to increase in many parts of the world. Weather-related catastrophes remain massively uninsured in many countries, particularly in emerging and developing

“Putting clear pricing on a specific CAT event helps the insured understand the cost of the risk, and they can decide how to mitigate future risk” Jonathan Charak, Zurich North America quickly and efficiently parametric insurance can support devastated communities. “Parametric insurance ensures that a payout is triggered automatically once a pre-defined threshold of an index is reached or exceeded, meaning policyholders get paid without having to go through a relatively lengthy insurance claim and loss adjustment process,” explains David Mäder, head of sales and delivery for P&S solutions at Swiss Re.


markets, presenting a strong need to offer broader insurance coverage that can increase the financial resilience of vulnerable communities. Parametric insurance offers one suitable option for bridging this protection gap. Parametric solutions started as weather derivatives in the energy markets during the 1980s, but have since evolved across the insurance space. Unlike traditional insurance solutions, parametric insurance allows for the use

of insurance and risk transfer tools to address very short-term needs, says Simon Young, senior director of Willis Towers Watson’s Climate and Resilience Hub. “Both public and private entities have trouble financing emergency response within annual or multi-annual budgeting cycles,” he says. “You can put aside a rainy day fund, which is the current, traditional way that we think about dealing with disasters, but there’s usually a limit to how much money you can set aside which isn’t being put to work.” “By insuring against a catastrophic weather event, parametric insurance can round out a customer’s insurance coverage by purchasing additional cover against a specific peril,” adds Jonathan Charak, emerging solutions director for Zurich North America. “Further, the purely objective nature of parametric insurance provides clear pricing and discussion of the chance an event occurs.” Young and Charak both emphasize that a key point of difference between traditional insurance and parametric insurance is the speed at which a claim can be paid. These faster payouts support vulnerable communities affected by climate change and natural catastrophes with immediate cash relief, Mäder says. Therefore, promoting alternative

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$4.5 million

Paid by the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Insurance Company (PCRIC) to the government of Tonga in the aftermath of Cyclone Harold in April 2020

$1.4 million

Paid by the African Risk Capacity Insurance Company to the government of Zimbabwe in response to drought conditions in July 2020


Paid to the government of Quintana Roo, Mexico, for damage to coral reefs in the wake of Hurricane Delta in October 2020 channels of insurance in regions of the world with large protection gaps could have a major impact in reducing the overall losses from natural catastrophes. Parametric insurance allows insureds faster, unrestricted access to payouts, Charak says, which in turn enables them to use the money in the most efficient way possible to

against precisely the conditions that affect or threaten your businesses,” he says. “Once this is designed, an insurance company can offer a quick and clear claims process, as the claims process is streamlined. Further, putting clear pricing on a specific CAT event helps the insured understand the cost of the risk, and they can decide how to mitigate future risk.”

“If you know you’re going to get some money [from an insurance payout], then that really incentivizes making a plan for how you’re going spend that” Simon Young, Willis Towers Watson recover from a catastrophe. From a claims perspective, he says, the quick payout potential of parametric insurance offers value to customers beyond just being able to insure something that wasn’t covered in the past. The trigger in the insurance contract provides certainty that when conditions are met, a payment will be made. “Parametric insurance is a viable proposition providing a way to secure protection

Parametric insurance lets government agencies, for example, take advantage of much more streamlined pre-, during- and post-event management, Mäder says, enabling a faster recovery and rebuilding of critical infrastructure and services. Young adds that the research points to compelling recovery and economic benefits of having money quickly available in the wake of natural disasters.

$2.5 million

Paid by CCRIF to the government of Barbados following Hurricane Elsa in July 2021 Sources: Prevention Web, African Risk Capacity, The Nature Conservancy, Relief Web; all figures in US$

“One of the things we have seen is that if you know you’re going to get some money, then that really incentivizes making a plan for how you’re going spend that … and we see that across the full spectrum of the clients that we’re working with,” Young says. “The value of insurance for incentivizing better risk behaviour is very real. And we think that parametric insurance is a way to bring that to countries and to settings where traditional insurance either has low penetration or hasn’t been thought about in the context of being useful.” Mäder notes that the increasing global interest in parametric insurance solutions also brings opportunities for insurers to access new distribution channels. “There is still a lot of room to fully leverage the benefits of parametric covers,” he says. “Insurers and regulators, as well as reinsurers such as Swiss Re, have important roles to play to grow the adoption of parametric products.”

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First Onsite Property Restoration

Insurance Restoration Specialists

IRS is a disaster recovery and environmental solutions provider headquartered in New Jersey


Eagle Underwriting

An independent managing agent, Eagle Underwriting specializes in transportation, trade and movable property

HUB International

H.W. Hollinger

Located in Montreal, H.W. Hollinger provides commercial and industrial insurance to the construction and real estate industries

H.W. Kaufman Group

Noremac Marketing Group

The Ontario-based marketing promotions company is Kaufman’s first non-insurance acquisition

RATESDOTCA co-founder Justin Thouin will step down as CEO but will remain a spokesperson and advisor to the board

Securian Financial Group

Armour Group

Ontario-based insurance and warranty provider Armour Group will continue to operate independently under its current leadership

Sun Life


Sun Life’s US$2.5 billion deal for the second largest US dental benefits provider will more than double its US employee benefits revenue

Westland Insurance Group

Insurance Unlimited; Tredd Insurance Brokers

Westland’s latest brokerage acquisitions include personal and commercial brokerage Insurance Unlimited and transportation and energy specialist Tredd Insurance Brokers

Securian Financial snaps up Armour Group

Securian Canada, a subsidiary of US-based insurer Securian Financial Group, has acquired Armour Group, marking its third Canadian acquisition in five years. Based in London, Ontario, Armour Group distributes insurance and warranty products through automobile dealers, recreational vehicle dealers and finance companies in Canada. Following the acquisition, which was finalized on September 1, Armour Group will continue to operate independently under its current leadership. “The acquisition of Armour Group and access to its broad distribution network diversifies our revenue and gives us a natural opportunity to expand into attractive adjacent markets,” said Chris Hilger, Securian Financial Group’s chairman, president and CEO.



GARS offers crop insurance product for canola farmers

In partnership with Corteva Agriscience, Global Ag Risk Solutions (GARS) is rolling out a new crop insurance product for Canadian canola farmers. Beginning next year, farmers who purchase Corteva’s Brevant brand seeds for Nexera canola will automatically be provided with GARS’ Heat Advantage insurance coverage, which provides up to $100 in coverage per acre in the event of excessive heat during the crop’s flowering growth development stage. GARS noted that heat blast affected nine out of 10 canola-growing townships last year, resulting in the loss of more than $500 million in revenue.

HSB Canada debuts cyber offering for small businesses

Munich Re subsidiary HSB Canada has launched HSB Cyber Suite, a cyber insurance product designed to protect small and medium-sized businesses from cyberattacks, data breaches, identity theft and cyber extortion. A turnkey reinsurance solution available through carriers that partner with HSB Canada, HSB Cyber Suite also features several optional coverage enhancements, including identity recovery, business income, extra expenses during restoration, electronic media liability for legal action, and cyber extortion costs (such as negotiator or investigator fees for ransomware incidents).

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10/11/2021 1:03:21 am

PEOPLE CHES Special Risk rolls out livestock insurance

CHES Special Risk is adding livestock and animal mortality insurance to its portfolio in response to growing interest in the farming and agricultural sector. The coverage extends beyond traditional livestock to cover animals such as llamas, goats, alpacas and ostriches, as well as special-use animals such as police and guide dogs. There are no limits on the size or value of a herd or flock, and coverage is available for ‘specialized’ livestock raised for wool or low-cholesterol meat. “We are delighted to support this primary industry, which is under intense pressure from other countries around the world,” said CHES president and CEO Gary Hirst.

AXA XL launches contractor schedule benchmarking

AXA XL’s construction insurance team has launched a new schedule benchmarking service to help its subcontractor default insurance clients strengthen their risk management efforts. The service reviews 40 schedule performance indicators across three categories: schedule processes and procedures, schedule development, and schedule updates/ongoing management. The new service, made possible by a partnership with SmartPM Technologies, allows contractors to observe analytics in real time and “pinpoint where they might improve to drive project success,” said AXA XL’s Gary Kaplan.

The Co-operators aims to reduce fire risk for farmers

The Co-operators has developed a new fire risk reduction program designed to help Canadian farmers deal with the dangers of electrical fires. The insurer has partnered with PrevTech Innovations, a provider of electrical monitoring, fault detection and diagnostic services, to offer farm insurance customers a cost-sharing incentive to install a PrevTech solution in their barns. The technology continuously monitors the barn’s electrical network for any electrical and thermal anomalies, alerting customers via a mobile dashboard so they can take the appropriate corrective measures before a fire occurs.





Alanna Boyd


Sun Life

Senior vice-president and chief sustainability officer

David Repinski


CRU Group


Fergus Meldrum

NFP Canada

Landmark Underwriting

Non-executive director

Hilario Itriago


BOXX Insurance

President, BOXX USA

Jason McDermott


Chisel AI

President and CEO

Kyle Winston


CRU Group


Lesley Munk

RSA Canada


Senior vice-president and associate general counsel, Canada

Philippe Sarfati

Concentra Bank

iA Financial Group

Executive vice-president and chief risk officer

Yves Gagnon

L’Unique General Insurance

Unica Insurance


Unica Insurance appoints new COO

Unica Insurance has selected Yves Gagnon, the former COO of L’Unique General Insurance, as its new COO. Both Unica and L’Unique are subsidiaries of Beneva, the company formed from the 2020 merger of La Capitale and SSQ Insurance. Prior to moving to Unica, Gagnon spent 21 years at L’Unique, where he held senior leadership positions in operations, sales and business development. “Yves is a strong advocate and supporter of the broker channel,” said Christian Fournier, Beneva’s executive vice-president of property & casualty insurance. “With his extensive experience and close working relationship with the Unica and L’Unique teams, he is absolutely the right person to continue growing our brokerage operations in Canada.”

Sun Life names first sustainability head

Sun Life has appointed Alanna Boyd as its first-ever chief sustainability officer. Since joining Sun Life in 2016, Boyd has been a leader in developing and advancing the company’s sustainability strategy, including directing its Purpose-led Sustainability Plan in 2019. She has also been vital in furthering Sun Life’s ESG disclosures in response to growing demand for robust corporate transparency on sustainability efforts. “Alanna brings a depth of sustainability experience and expertise to help Sun Life continue to embed sustainable practices across our business operations,” said Sun Life president and CEO Kevin Strain.

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10/11/2021 1:03:23 am


TECHNOLOGY UPDATE NEWS BRIEFS Vertafore Canada unveils new digital partner program

Vertafore Canada has launched a new program that aims to enhance SaaS solutions for brokers with integrations from third-party technology providers. The new Vertafore Canada Orange Partner Program currently boasts partnerships with seven tech providers that offer online payments, automated documentation and communication, and e-commerce and e-signature capabilities, offering brokers additional opportunities to optimize processes, enhance the digital experience and complement their strategic initiatives.

iA Financial Corporation acquires majority stake in Surex

iA Financial Corporation has acquired 70% of the shares of digital insurance marketplace Surex. The move gives iA Financial majority stakes in two Surex companies: Ltd. and (Ontario). François Blais, executive vice-president of dealer services and special risks at iA Financial Group, said the addition of Surex “allows us to better serve our distribution networks across Canada and, at the same time, to improve the client experience by offering a broader range of financial products.”

Guidewire rolls out new suite of analytics applications

Guidewire has launched Guidewire Live, a suite of analytics applications that allows insurers to take advantage of real-time insights embedded in core systems across the insurance life cycle. Guidewire Live’s apps use ‘smart loop’ analytics to provide insurers with curated intelligence from a range of high-value data sources, and their


integration with core systems enables insurance professionals to make more accurate decisions. In addition to its integrated features, Guidewire Live also includes support for open-source analytical models, new data visual­ izations, greater global capabilities and the integration of HazardHub property risk insights with PolicyCenter.

Asia-based insurtech CoverGo expands to North America

Insurtech CoverGo, which provides a no-code platform that helps insurance companies streamline their ecosystem, is expanding from Asia into the US, Canada and Latin America. CoverGo, which currently has offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam, has seen its subscription revenue rise by more than 400% since January 2021. The insurtech has appointed advisory firm DP88 to aid in its international expansion by securing initial funding and building relationships with key partners and investors in advance of the company’s upcoming equity fundraising round.

Canadians have low confidence in their insurance knowledge

Almost half of Canadians (46%) say they feel uncertain or ill-informed about the insurance products currently available to them, according to a new survey by consultancy firm Capco. Canadians’ confidence level in insurance products was the lowest out of the 13 countries Capco surveyed; the global average for customer certainty in insurance was 63%. Capco also found that Canada has the largest gender gap in terms of perceived insurance knowledge – only 43% of Canadian women consider themselves wellinformed about insurance products, compared to 63% of Canadian men.

Consumers’ take on embedded insurance The concept of automatically offering insurance based on consumers’ transaction data is picking up steam

More than two-thirds (67%) of digital bank customers and 57% of traditional bank customers in Canada say they’re highly interested in receiving embedded insurance offers based on their transaction data. That’s the finding of a recent survey conducted by on behalf of Cover Genius, an embedded insurance company that protects the global customers of some of the world’s largest digital companies. Embedded insurance is a “very simple but logical concept,” says David Brune, president of the Americas at Cover Genius. Essentially, it’s a way for companies to embed an offer of insurance at the point of sale, thus catching the consumer at the precise moment they’re thinking about their finances – for example, when they’ve just signed a lease on a property or purchased a $1,200 plane ticket. “People want convenience,” Brune says. “Everybody’s online, and [our studies show] they want the convenience of being offered [insurance] coverage online as they buy the things that they care about. That’s basically it, and when you can back it up with the data and the technology to make sure that they’re offered the right product that fits what they’re buying, that’s a win-win.” The COVID-19 pandemic has only increased demand for embedded insurance.

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With the adoption of new digital practices, the average consumer’s digital footprint has grown exponentially – as has their potential exposure to embedded financial products. Vikram Sidhu, a partner at Clyde & Co., says embedded insurance is something “every­one is constantly talking about … Everyone’s doing it; it’s a trend that’s really coming true. We’re not just seeing it from technology companies, but also from large retailers and

“Everybody’s online, and they want the convenience of being offered [insurance] coverage online” many other different types of businesses. Everybody wants to embed insurance into whatever customer journeys might exist.” Sidhu regularly assists clients with complex corporate and commercial transactions, including M&As. In embedded insurance, he says the partnerships being formed are “not purely M&A” but more like joint ventures. “The large retailers or large tech companies … seem to be spreading around their potential insurance business more widely at this time instead of focusing on identifying ‘That’s the insurtech we want to buy’ and so on,” he says. “I think more M&A will come, but I’m not expecting it in this next six months to a year because right now, businesses are just diversifying, trying out a bunch of things and then seeing how embedded insurance works for their overall operation.”


Margo Lyons Vice-president of broker distribution APOLLO INSURANCE

Years in the industry 9 Fast fact Lyons is the co-founder and acting chair of the Young Insurance Professionals of BC

The secrets to insurtech success APOLLO Insurance has been named a Top Canadian Startup by LinkedIn. How did you achieve this in the face of the pandemic and the shift to remote work? We are incredibly proud to be named one of LinkedIn’s Top Canadian Startups. We have always been a digital-first company, with staff working remotely all across Canada. APOLLO has continuously been invested in building a strong company culture where our employees feel connected to their peers while being equipped to be effective and well supported in their roles. During the pandemic, our team had a significant expansion – we hired more than 80 employees and are still hiring. Despite having to integrate and work remotely due to the pandemic, we have built a team while maintaining and enriching our company culture.

Has the pandemic helped push more brokers into using the digital APOLLO Exchange marketplace? The APOLLO Exchange has seen a surge in users and adoption across Canada. We currently have over 4,000 individual broker users, representing nearly 12% of Canada’s total broker force. We continue to launch new products to meet market demand. This past year, we have added several new products, including retail and e-commerce stores, pet services, and small business and office packages. We will continue to build and deploy products that our broker partners are asking for.

What advantages do brokers get from partnering with APOLLO Insurance? APOLLO offers its broker partners an unmatched service in the insurance industry. We provide users with weekly updates on new products and features; regular access to digital marketing expertise; a help center with quick access to product details and questions; live chat 12 hours a day, five days a week; and more. We make sure our team is available whenever our broker partners need them. We want to make it easier for brokers to bind insurance digitally by offering them hundreds of classes of small business insurance and personal lines products from multiple carriers. Our broker partners can simply log into the platform, select the product that suits their clients’ needs and bind it in real time – without the lengthy back-and-forth with an underwriter. We also power dozens of brokerage websites across Canada with our whitelabelled e-commerce tool. This allows brokerages to sell our digital insurance products to consumers directly from their own website while using their own branding.

How do you plan to keep your successful streak going? Our plan is to continue to build long-lasting relationships with our network of brokers and other key partners. Right now, APOLLO is developing a strong team that is empowered to serve and delight our broker partners. We will continue our proven strategy of adding new partners and expanding our product variety.

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10/11/2021 1:04:36 am



Tackling the personal cyber market Cyber threats aren’t just a problem for companies – nor are they limited to ransomware

this concerned them,” Kundi says. “They want to feel in control but appreciate they don’t have the expertise to match sophisticated criminals.” Kundi also warns that there’s more to cybercrime than just the headline-stealing ransomware attacks on businesses. “Cyberattacks on consumers tend to largely go unreported in the press, but we have seen a huge uptick in fraud-related incidents as a result of COVID-19,” he says. “Publicly available reports suggest the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre received 5,242

“There was a universal view that personal customers would struggle to contain [a cyber] incident”

The rising tide of cybercrime during the COVID-19 pandemic has affected not just businesses but individuals as well. And to further complicate matters, only a small percentage of cybercrime or fraud is reported to law authorities in Canada, says Vishal Kundi, CEO of BOXX Insurance, which makes it difficult to know the true depth of Canada’s cyber risk. “We do know that Canada has one of the highest rates of digital adoption in the world, and that suggests we face higher exposure than other countries where digital adoption


is lower,” Kundi says. “That said, in the world of cybercrime, where you live in the world is not relevant … Your IP address is at risk in the same way as many other millions of others across the world.” BOXX Insurance recently entered into a partnership with cyber incident response firm Asceris in a bid to better serve personal cyber customers. “In our research, it was clear to us that in the event of a cyber incident, there was a universal view that personal customers would struggle to contain the incident, and

Landmark Underwriting enters Canadian market

London-based Landmark Underwriting has expanded into Canada under the direction of newly hired nonexecutive director Fergus Meldrum. Landmark Canada is currently only licensed to do business in Ontario but hopes to become licensed in all provinces and territories over the next few months. “The move into Canada comes at the right time for this established MGA group and … will bring our brokers a dynamic alternative market to present clients who are seeking their insurance solutions,” Meldrum said.


reports of COVID-19 fraud, with a total loss of $6.2 million. We need to make Canadians more aware of the risks.” Kundi believes MGAs like BOXX are more agile in serving both personal and commercial clients, especially given how quickly cyber threats can evolve. “With the convenience that digital brings comes a general desire for insurance to be a quicker, slicker and more effective way to help them stay protected,” he says. “MGAs, by their nature, are typically lighter on their feet, and that makes it easier to respond to new needs and problems.”

GroupAssur acquires Eagle Underwriting

Canadian MGA GroupAssur has acquired independent managing agent Eagle Underwriting, which offers insurance products, underwriting expertise and claims service to brokers and their clients in both the US and Canada. Founded in 1996, the company is an expert in the field of transportation, trade and movable property. The acquisition will further GroupAssur’s international growth objectives and add new lines of insurance to its offering, while also giving it expertise in the complex marine, cargo and aviation sectors.

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MaryKate Townsend

The MGA sector’s performance in 2021

President/ Manager and senior underwriter CAMGA/ PACIFIC MARINE

Years in the industry 13 Fast fact Before joining the insurance industry, Townsend drove a Zamboni for a living

As the new president of CAMGA, what are your main goals for the organization? We have three, and they all support the main goal of creating more structure and stability for the MGA sector in Canada. The first is education and professionalism; we’ve created a CMGA designation specifically for MGAs and those who want to join an entrepreneurial underwriting environment. This is operated by the IIC. We have also drafted a very robust Code of Ethics that all members of CAMGA agree to meet as a condition of membership. The second is on the regulatory front, where there is much misunderstanding in regulatory regimes across the country. We have started talking with regulators about setting a common minimum standard that all MGA members will have to meet as a condition of membership. This standard of excellence, we hope, will replace the retail broker requirements imposed in certain jurisdictions and create a new CAMGA standard for MGAs in those jurisdictions that have no requirement whatsoever. The third pillar is advocating for the MGA sector with brokers and carriers. These are our business partners, and we collectively, through an association like CAMGA, need to advocate about the benefits of dealing and trading with MGAs. There are huge benefits to both carriers and brokers in trading with our membership, and this is something CAMGA is focused on.

Intact Public Entities helps fund climate change resilience

Intact Public Entities, the public-entities-focused MGA arm of Intact Financial, and the Intact Foundation are investing $1 million through Intact’s Municipal Climate Resiliency Grant to help Canadian cities and towns improve their resilience to the impacts of climate change. “We need to enable municipalities across Canada to build resilient communities together,” said Intact Public Entities president Larry Ryan. “We’re in a unique position to help bring plans to life so we can action change and make a difference.”

How have MGAs handled the COVID-19 pandemic? What should they do to prepare for the next global economic crisis? I would rate MGAs with a grade of A+. By our nature, MGAs are nimble and quick to react to new problems, whether they be new risks or in our operating models. MGA members had plans in place for remote work and simply executed them. Because of the unique personal relationships underwriters have with brokers, most of those lines of communication remained productive. Capacity has been a little challenging as carriers rethought their appetites, but that’s something that MGAs are quick enough to find solutions to.

Are there any specialty coverages that emerged or have become popular over the pandemic? How can MGAs capitalize on them? CAMGA, as an association, is working to assist our members on the tech front; we would like to produce a few technology platforms that will allow an even more seamless switch in the event of more drastic working restrictions. We are also seeing many members think twice about diversifying their capacity in terms of amounts and numbers of providers. A heavy reliance on a smaller number of providers ties one’s hands in the event of a global shock like we’ve seen these two years.

RAISE Underwriting snaps up United Surety

RAISE Underwriting has reached an agreement to acquire United Surety, an independent Ontario-based MGA. Founded in 2020, United Surety provides surety products to brokers and their clients in Canada and the US. “We are thrilled to welcome the talented United team to RAISE and look forward to a smooth transition of the business,” said RAISE CEO Matt Baynton. “By combining the expertise of RAISE and United, we will be able to offer our brokers a robust array of products in the construction and real estate space.”

CHES Special Risk expands presence in Quebec

CHES Special Risk, which operates in Quebec under the name CHES Solutions Spécialisées, has opened a new office in Quebec City. “We are seeing very strong business growth from the retail brokers in and around the Quebec City region,” said CHES president and CEO Gary Hirst, “and in accordance with our successful strategy of being available to brokers in their region, we are delighted to support the Quebec City insurance industry with our award-winning service, extensive capacity and appetite.”

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Insurance must innovate or die Insurers that don’t have a clear and consistent mission in their innovation operations risk huge failure, writes Robert Lowe FOR MANY of those outside – and even inside – the industry, insurance and innovation may not seem to go together. Yet, rather quietly, most large insurers have been ramping up their innovation spending over the past decade. This is largely in response to the rise of more agile insurtech startups and to deliver complementary services like healthy lifestyle apps, data-driven pricing operations, transparency in policy specifics and other value-added consumer technologies. While this is a good start, it isn’t enough to keep the industry on the stable footing it has enjoyed for generations. Recent difficulties in settling claims from the COVID-19 pandemic are only the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to climate change, large swaths of the global P&C insurance industry are coming into the crosshairs of generational change. The effects of our warming planet have begun making whole categories of property assets borderline uninsurable. As the effects get worse, the strategic options will only get tougher. If insurance companies innovate in ways they already understand – tweaking their underwriting policies, pushing harder on claims or other ‘surface’ improvements – they’ll find themselves fighting over smaller pieces of a shrinking pie. So what can be done on the innovation front to help the industry maintain long-term viability? These days, the typical industry response to looming threats is to create a fancy new innovation center or to go buy a bunch of startups. But by pouring knee-jerk resources and publicity into innovation, corporations are doing themselves a disservice. It’s impossible to predict the future with


perfect clarity. But it’s also easy to imagine how a warmer planet will affect various asset classes around the world. Insurers need to double down on innovations that can help them change the game – for example, using AI and weather data to predict where disasters will strike, leveraging Big Data and climate change models to anticipate changing patterns of risk, and building risk mitigation solutions to serve a growing ‘prevention’ side of the market. One of the greatest myths in business is that innovation is incredibly organized and meticulously game-planned. The truth is, too

ress. Yet most insurers have not formalized the central core of their innovation operations. They don’t have a centralized ability to track projects, coordinate global programs or evaluate the likelihood of success on anything but a finger-to-the-wind level. This has undermined innovation success and bred skepticism among senior decision-makers when it comes to funding priorities. Establishing a formal innovation operations infrastructure can go a long way in fixing the issues that exist on both of these fronts. Pursuing broad-spectrum innovation means taking some strategic leaps. This is often where innovation efforts begin to fall apart, because it can be uncomfortable for leaders to commit when the outcomes are speculative. Unlike most executive decisions, investing in strategic innovation cannot be forced into a neat box. I’ve seen time and again that simply adding an innovation team or opening an innovation center without ongoing cross-functional coordination commits the effort to failure. Future scenarios should be modeled, and innovation risk can (and should) be managed over time – but innovation endeavours won’t be crisply predictable, nor can they be de-risked

“If insurance companies innovate in ways they already understand, they’ll find themselves fighting over smaller pieces of a shrinking pie” many firms make tentative forays into innovation, often on a number of fronts, creating a tangled web of initiatives and priorities that are often incoherent. It’s impossible for any mission-critical business function to succeed without a clear and consistent vision that enables a strong operational foundation. Companies across the business spectrum don’t have the modern infrastructure in place that’s needed to drive widespread innovation success. Other core departments, such as finance and marketing, benefit from experienced leaders, a clear set of modern measurement tools to track performance, and established protocols for reporting and reviewing prog-

to ‘normal’ levels of corporate comfort. But the do-nothing alternatives are far worse. The executive team must learn to adopt a specific, calibrated type of ambiguity tolerance. The climate-induced challenges facing insurance companies are very real. But with the proper strategies, tools and leadership discipline, traditional insurers can retool their businesses to better meet the needs of the market, both today and in the future. Robert Lowe is CEO of Wellspring Worldwide, a provider of knowledge supply chain software systems. He is a former director of enterprise creation and professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

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The customs of the legal profession are feeling the weight of 21st-century stresses



Companies and products that prevailed among their competitors



Kirsten Thompson on going from technical to creative in advising on data strategies

Times have changed and blogs must change with them, writes Steve Szentesi PM# 41261516

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LegalTech Summit C A N A D A

National HR Directors Summit

HR Mental Health Summit

HR Summit





Employee Engagement


















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A BRIGHT FUTURE FOR BROKERS Joseph Carnevale, president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario, chats with IBC about the major trends and opportunities in the broker channel

WHEN JOSEPH CARNEVALE became president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO) on January 1, 2020, little did he know he’d soon be steering the ship through one of the most disruptive public health catastrophes society has ever faced. Good thing ‘change management’ is right in Carnevale’s wheelhouse. “Of course I would be thrown in at a time of complete change,” he laughs. “But that’s fine; I’m comfortable in that environment, and I’ve enjoyed the challenge. In one way, my presidency has been different in that I’ve had zero travel – normally the IBAO president would travel around and meet with the other sister associations across Canada. While that hasn’t happened, you can just imagine the conversations, calls and virtual meetings we’ve had on a regular basis with the IBAO board and our CEO on the goings-on of COVID, premium relief, digitalization and figuring out how we can support brokers throughout all of this. I think the IBAO has stepped up and provided a great service to its members during this time, and I’m incredibly proud to be part of that.” The association has supported Ontario brokers during the pandemic by providing virtual networking and education opportunities. In October, the IBAO 2021 Virtual Convention attracted more than 1,100 atten-


dees and 40 event sponsors – and while Carnevale admits that everyone is “yearning for the next in-person convention,” he says lots of good has come out of the association’s virtual gatherings. “The advantages of having virtual events, or aspects of a convention that are virtual, are actually pretty astounding,” he says. “We’re

no doubt that maintaining some aspect of virtual moving forward will continue to open up opportunities for more meaningful interaction with brokers.”

Getting the word out There were several big themes highlighted during the IBAO 2021 Virtual Convention,

“Front and centre is our need to attract and retain talent. We need to coordinate and make a pitch to everyone out there that insurance is the place to be, it’s a great career, and the industry’s always growing and innovating” attracting brokers from across Ontario who, for one reason or another, maybe didn’t take the trip out to our past in-person conventions, perhaps because they couldn’t get time out of the office or their personal circumstances prevented them from travelling. “By offering a virtual convention, we’ve had this amazing opportunity to attract and interact with a whole bunch of brokers that we traditionally haven’t had the chance to interact with. It’s been fantastic, and there’s

the first being diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), which has now reached the top of the insurance agenda. Many organizations are now realizing that effective DE&I will help to bring much-needed talent into the industry. “Front and centre is our need to attract and retain talent,” Carnevale says. “We’re working hard within the industry, and we’re trying to coordinate this effort as much as possible to attract recent graduates, soon-to-be graduates, high school students and others to the

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PROFILE Name: Joseph Carnevale Title: President Organization: Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario Based in: Markham, Ontario Years in the industry: 16

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industry and open their eyes to the fact that insurance is something they should consider. We need to coordinate and make a pitch to everyone out there that insurance is the place to be, it’s a great career, and the industry’s always growing and innovating. Honestly, we do something that’s amazing. We help people get back to where they were prior to a claim. You can go home at night and say, ‘I’ve made a difference in someone’s life or in some business’s life today.’” The IBAO has done a lot in recent years to combat the industry’s talent shortage, especially in the broker channel. For example, the association has sponsored the Humber College Insurance Management Program,

towards a campaign to the mass public about what brokers do, why they should be using us, and we’re really excited about that … and it dovetails nicely into the recruitment aspect of what we do, too.”

Digital future Another key theme at every insurance convention, the IBAO’s included, is digitalization. Earlier this year, the IBAO launched its Going Paperless Project in response to the industry’s shift away from traditional business models. That’s something the association will continue to push through 2022. “Digital everything is high on the agenda for everyone,” Carnevale says. “What does

“Digital everything is high on the agenda for everyone. Technology has just opened up the door to so many opportunities for brokerages to entrench that [client] relationship and strengthen it” and it has provided students in the program with the resources and funding needed to sit the RIBO examination. This partnership has been so successful at pumping fresh talent into the broker channel that the IBAO has since expanded the program to other colleges across the province. Tied to that, the IBAO continues to run education campaigns, mentorship programs and PR focusing on what the industry does, the impact brokers can have on people’s lives and the career opportunities that are available for talented individuals. “In 2022, we’re going to launch our Ontario brokers campaign,” Carnevale says. “We’ve recognized that a lot of people out there, especially millennials, don’t really understand or appreciate how brokers are different or what the advantages of using a broker are – access to multiple markets, the relationship, the advice. We’ve dedicated a number of resources



paperless mean? What other opportunities does it give for brokerages to improve their relationship with clients and be more engaged than they have been maybe in the past? Technology has just opened up the door to so many opportunities for brokerages to entrench that relationship and strengthen it. Insurance companies have figured that out too, and they’re doing their best to do that. “We’re very aware of the potential competition when it comes to who owns that relationship and who’s really working on growing that relationship, but brokers maintain that they’re our clients – we work hard to make sure we keep them engaged, informed and educated about what’s happening in the industry; what’s happening with insurance products; and opportunities to have better coverage. And certainly, brokers do a great job doing that, and the digital world has provided us great opportunity to strengthen that relationship.”


Total members


Member brokerages


E-learning course registrations in 2020


LinkedIn followers


Delegates at the 2020 IBAO Virtual Convention

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IBC recognizes the companies that are offering the industry’s best compensation, benefits, culture and more



Feature article ................................................ 22 Methodology .................................................. 23 Top Insurance Employers ............................. 25 Profiles............................................................. 26

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THE NEW WORLD OF WORK “Our benefits are progressive and flexible, helping our associates balance their professional and personal lives”

OVER THE past year and a half, restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have driven many insurance employees from office buildings to their homes. Amid the change in work locations and means of communication, organizational structures and work cultures have continued to evolve as well. Companies are constantly looking to find a competitive edge, striving to draw and retain both new customers and talented employees.

Mary Duncan, CAA Club Group

THE TOP-RATED EMPLOYERS I am satisfied with the flexible work options offered by my organization Mitchell & Whale Insurance Brokers 5.00 Alteri Insurance 4.91 OVC Assurance 4.88

My organization is dedicated to my professional development KASE Insurance 5.00 LBA Ware (4.84) Brokers 4.94 Avant Insurance Latitude Financial Services 4.91

My job performance is evaluated fairly BMS Canada Risk Services 4.91 Atlantic Home Mortgage Leibel Insurance (4.90)Group 4.83 Latitude Financial Services 4.82

I am satisfied with the culture of my workplace Latitude Financial Service 5.00 Sales Boomerang KASE Insurance 4.91 (4.90) Mitchell & Whale Insurance Brokers 4.89

My organization is dedicated to diversity and inclusion Stewart Morrison Insurance Brokers 4.94 Latitude Financial Services 4.91 Foxquilt 4.86 1 Poor



3 Average


5 Excellent

So which companies in Canada’s insurance industry are reaching this lofty goal? To find out, IBC contacted hundreds of employees across scores of companies and asked them more than two dozen questions about everything from compensation and culture to transparency of leadership and job security. Flexibility was a key factor across the Top Insurance Employers. Mary Duncan, chief human resources officer at CAA Club Group (CCG), highlights her company’s flexible benefits, which include programs for shared success, workplace wellness, rewards and recognition, and financial wellness. “Our benefits are progressive and flexible, helping our associates balance their professional and personal lives,” Duncan says. At Northbridge Financial Corporation, benefits include flexible work arrangements and a stock purchase plan. “We know that each employee is different, and so our comprehensive benefits plan is flexible and can be tailored to meet the needs of our employees’ families,” says Lori McDougall, chief people and strategy officer. In addition, Northbridge and CCG offer

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both traditional and online learning opportunities to empower employees to advance their careers. Transparency was another big theme across this year’s Top Insurance Employers. Both McDougall and Kanwar Bola, president of A-KAN Insurance, emphasize the importance of goal-setting and transparency when communicating objectives to employees. “We like to set clear performance standards that outline what an employee in a specific role is expected to accomplish and how the work should be done,” Bola says. “The same standards must apply to every employee who holds the same position.” All three companies are also committed to providing a high level of transparency

home and at work. Our initiatives address four key aspects of well-being: mental, physical, financial and social.” Another big draw is culture. “[It is important to] create a culture of trust,” Bola says. “One of the best ways to maintain company culture is to hire the right people who fit in with the people they will be working with on a daily basis.” At Northbridge, McDougall says, employee engagement and belonging at work are encouraged, and the company helps ensure it’s on the right path by running surveys twice a year. “Our culture sets us apart – it is the strength that we draw upon in both good and difficult times,” she says. “Our employees

“Our culture sets us apart – it is the strength that we draw upon in both good and difficult times” Lori McDougall, Northbridge Financial Corporation

across their C-level leadership and have comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.

Culture club Attracting and retaining talent can be a challenge in insurance, as it’s an industry that’s not typically on the radar of young job-seekers. So what are the Top Insurance Employers doing to buck this trend? According to Duncan, CCG aims to deliver purpose-driven work, a flexible environment that prioritizes wellness, and growth and professional development programs. At Northbridge, it’s all about employee well-being. “We put our people first and are committed to ensuring they feel their wellbeing is taken care of,” McDougall says. “We have a well-being program that aims to help employees be their best selves every day at

always comment about our incredible and unique culture.” Giving back to the community is a key component of that culture, McDougall adds. “Social responsibility is important to us, and we’ve created a Northbridge Cares program that helps us direct our energy to supporting, educating and encouraging Canadian youth to reach their full potential. Our employees value our commitment to our communities – and the various ways in which we employ them to support the causes they’re passionate about.”

METHODOLOGY To find and recognize the best employers in the insurance industry, Insurance Business Canada began by inviting organizations to fill out an employer form, explaining their various offerings and practices. Next, employees from nominated companies were asked to fill out an anonymous survey evaluating their workplace on a number of metrics, including benefits, compensation, culture, employee development, and commitment to diversity and inclusion. To be considered, each organization had to reach a minimum number of employee responses based on overall size. Organizations that achieved an 80% or greater average satisfaction rating from employees were named a Top Insurance Employer for 2021.

3rd Year of IBC’s Top Insurance Employers report

1,600 Total number of employees surveyed for this year’s report

24% Percentage of survey respondents who have been with their company for 10-plus years

Onward and upward While it’s relatively easy to expound on what’s going well, it’s a bit more difficult to turn a critical eye on your organization and admit where further improvement is necessary. But Northbridge, CCG and A-KAN






Bonus/incentive programs


Vision coverage


Flexible work options


Employee recognition programs


Medical coverage


Disability benefits


Dental coverage


Long-term care benefits


A retirement plan


Performance reviews

“Constant communication is key for both building relationships and ensuring that important work information does not fall through the cracks” Kanwar Bola, A-KAN Insurance are all forthcoming about where they’re striving to improve – and one important area is communication. “We understand that no company or person is perfect, and there is always room for improvement,” Bola says. “We will continue to work on communication with our employees. Constant communication is key for both building relationships and ensuring that important work information does not fall through the cracks. We will also continue to make our compensation and


benefits structure better.” In addition to enhancing feedback, McDougall says Northbridge is also working to improve rewards and recognition and growth programs. “Our pulse surveys have indicated that these are our areas of opportunity,” she says, “and we’re launching new programs to ensure that employees are receiving feedback frequently throughout the year, positive performance is recognized in a timely way, and that we have robust career

development conversations and mentorship programs in place.” Meanwhile, CCG is focused on better communicating what the company does and how it operates. “We are generally a humble organization, and we don’t always want to shout from the rooftops about the good work that we do,” Duncan says. Going forward, the Top Insurance Employers have ambitious plans to maintain their standing as a place where people enjoy coming to work. “We’ll continue to review and build programs that put our people first, including focusing on well-being, work-life balance, social events and growth opportunities,” McDougall says of Northbridge. “As our workplace evolves to a hybrid one – 50% work from home and 50% work from office – we’ll continue to focus on social events that everyone can participate in and feel connected to each other. We’re also going to train employees and leaders on how to collaborate effectively in this hybrid world.” At CCG, the goals are equally expansive, Duncan says, including “continuing to focus on innovation, creativity and developing more customer-centric insurance products and services; prioritizing investments in wellness partnerships that contribute to the overall well-being of our associates; introducing more at-home wellness programs for our associates to use with friends and family; prioritizing providing associates with more ongoing knowledge and skills through online training and experiential learning; and encouraging everyone to take time for self-care and utilize the tools and information shared through our wellness programs.” For A-KAN, Bola says, the focus will be squarely on employees. “We like to recognize employee achievements and contributions – it helps foster loyalty and satisfaction among employees,” he says. “[We’ll also] conduct weekly/monthly one-on-one check-ins with employees rather than yearly reviews. It takes some extra time and energy, but keeps the team focused and feeling valued.”

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10 TO 25 EMPLOYEES A-KAN Insurance Phone: 780-423-0909 Email: Website: Alteri Insurance

JT Insurance Services (Canada) KASE Insurance Keyes Insurance Brokerage Latitude Financial Services SafeBridge Private Wealth

Avant Insurance Brokers

Savante Insurance

The James Insurance Group

26 TO 100 EMPLOYEES Ai Insurance Organization

Leibel Insurance Group

Phone: 877-213-4545 Email: Website:

Phone: 866-484-8880 Email: Website:

The Insurance Market

Groupe Lepelco

Phone: 800-668-4764 Email: Website: APOLLO Exchange Armour Insurance BMS Canada Risk Services CHES Special Risk

isure insurance Mitchell & Whale Insurance Brokers Nude Solutions OVC Assurance Stanhope Simpson Insurance Stewart Morrison Insurance Brokers

Duliban Insurance Brokers

The Mutual Fire Insurance Company of British Columbia


Vertafore Canada

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Billyard Insurance Group

Axis Insurance Managers GTI Broker Group

Phone: 905-346-2190 Email: Website:

Liberty Mutual Canada

CAA Club Group

Red River Mutual The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group

Phone: 866-988-8878 Email: Website:

Unica Insurance

Northbridge Financial Corporation

Wilson M. Beck Insurance Services

Phone: 416-350-4300 Email: Website:


A Kanwar Bola, president and CEO

A-KAN INSURANCE Phone: 780-423-0909 Email: Website:


-KAN Insurance is dedicated to creating a culture of respect, security, integrity and communication for its team. The reason for that is simple: “I want all of our employees to enjoy work as much as I do,” says president and CEO Kanwar Bola. “We are committed to treating all A-KAN employees respectfully, fairly, and equitably, fostering a climate of diversity and inclusiveness that values, celebrates, and leverages our differences.” Based in Edmonton, A-KAN Insurance is led by Bola and his sister, Anj Kaur, who is the company’s director. With more than 20 years of combined insurance experience, A-KAN prides itself on ensuring its clients are covered in all aspects of their lives, including life, auto, home, medical and commercial insurance. The company offers its employees the same level of commitment, with a comprehensive total rewards package that includes market-driven pay and competitive benefits. Bola says building an employee-focused culture, and involving employees in recruiting, has been important to both attract and retain top talent, even during a difficult 2020. “Our teams have shown incredible resiliency in the face of a global pandemic,” he says, “delivering critical client solutions and exceptional client service while navigating personal health and safety, and successfully adjusting to remote work environments and virtual collaboration techniques.”

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CAA CLUB GROUP Phone: 866-988-8878 Email: Website:


or more than 100 years, CAA has been helping Canadians stay mobile, safe and protected. The Thornhill, Ontario-based organization knows that its associates are at the core of delivering on that promise. So when recent events prompted some hard decisions, it was important that everyone knew they would be safe. “When the pandemic first hit, our CEO clearly communicated that the organization would do everything in its power to weather the storm and ensure job security,” says Mary Duncan, chief human resources officer at CAA Club Group (CCG). “Through a series of strategic decisions, we were able to keep that promise. Associates working in areas of the business that were hit hard by COVID were given an opportunity to be retrained on a number of insurance services, like underwriting, sales/OTL licence and service, and then redeployed to contribute to growing areas of the organization. Our people come first at CCG, and that was made very apparent when tough decisions had to be made during this pandemic.” The CAA Club Group of Companies is

composed of two automobile clubs, CAA South Central Ontario and CAA Manitoba, which provide roadside assistance, travel, insurance service and member savings for over 2.4 million members. CCG also includes the CAA Insurance Company, a national property & casualty insurance company; Echelon Insurance, a national specialty insurer; and the Orion Travel Insurance Company. CAA Insurance Company was established in 1974 to provide dependable and trustworthy service to protect Canadians and what matters to them. CAA Insurance Company believes in helping customers and distribution partners with the highest level of respect, fairness and attention for the best coverage. CAA Insurance home and auto insurance products are distributed through CAA clubs and select brokerages. Orion Travel Insurance was incorporated in 2013 to protect Canadian travelers globally and strives to be the company that is proudly recommended as the most trusted travel insurance company in Canada. Echelon Insurance was purchased by CAA Club Group in May 2019. Other than its long history and impressive

reach, what helps differentiate the CAA Club Group of Companies from its competitors? “CCG is a purpose-led and care-driven organization, meaning that we are driven by our mission,” says Matthew Turack, group president of insurance at CCG. “We advocate on behalf of our customers and members and give back to the communities we operate in. Associates are empowered to make a difference every day. CAA Insurance is focused on making insurance as simple and comprehensive as possible, to provide products and services that are customer-centric, and to simply be there for each and every person served. In short, we are driven by doing good.” CAA CLUB GROUP AT A GLANCE


Year founded


Number of full-time staff in Canada


Proportion of women on the executive team

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NORTHBRIDGE FINANCIAL CORPORATION Phone: 416-350-4300 Email: Website:


e are a people-first company, we succeed as a team, and we care to make a difference,” says Lori McDougall, chief people and strategy officer at Northbridge Financial Corporation. “Whether it’s ensuring our employees’ safety by working from home during the pandemic or providing an extra well-being day off, we’re a family, and family takes care of one another.” Northbridge Financial Corporation is an industry-leading property & casualty insurance group that has been protecting Canadian businesses for more than 100 years. Northbridge invests in its employees’ knowledge and expertise so it can better serve its customers, and it also provides the right technology and resources for its employees, including a multi-year initiative to modernize its insurance platforms to build a future-forward workplace. Apart from underwriting and claims transformation, Northbridge is also modernizing its people and culture tools to enhance the employee experience. For Northbridge, creating an inclusive and welcoming work culture is equally important, and company leaders have hosted discussions on Black History Month, International Women’s Day, Pride, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and Disability Employment Awareness Month. “Apart from ensuring we’re competitive on all aspects in the industry, we believe flexibility and inclusivity are of the highest importance to attract and retain the industry’s top talent,” McDougall says. “We’re committed to supporting our employees’ personal and professional development to help them achieve even greater success in the future.”


Ai INSURANCE ORGANIZATION Phone: 877-213-4545 Email: Website:


eing a Top Insurance Employer requires a commitment to and a passion for people,” says Randy Carroll, CEO of Ai Insurance Organization in Mississauga, Ontario. “We continue to attract and retain top talent in the business through continuous investment in our staff.” Ai Insurance is an award-winning insurance brokerage and Canada’s leading surety bond broker and contractor insurance provider. Ai Insurance offers its employees a professional development and continuing education program that enables them to enhance their technical skills and achieve industry designations. The company also promotes a balanced work-life environment, supported by its group benefits program, which focuses on employee wellness with access to a variety of immediate health and support services for self-care and well-being. In addition, Carroll says Ai Insurance maintains and supports a family-first policy for its team and encourages the full use of vacation time and supports staff who require personal time. “Ensuring that our staff ’s personal lives are a priority is a must for our organization,” he says. “Our mission is to be the top Canadian insurance brokerage, recognized for its dedication to its staff, its clients and for utilizing cutting-edge innovation to create superior value for all. We commit ourselves to lifelong learning, to balance self-confidence with humility and to embrace the diversity of our teammates.”

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CAA Club Group is Honoured to Have Been Named a Top Insurance Employer We continue to prioritize the empowerment of our Associates. This accolade is a direct result of our driven, engaged and

Why work with us

hard-working teams.

Our commitment

The CAA Club Group (CCG) is purpose-led and care-driven. We advocate on behalf of our customers and Members and give back to the communities we operate in. Associates are empowered to make a difference every day.

Come grow with us

We are focused on making insurance as simple and comprehensive as possible, to provide products and services that are customer-centric and to simply be there for each and every person served. Our business decisions are made based on what is best for the consumer, and this has led to sustained, year-over-year growth. We are also committed to making insurance affordable for consumers. With this guiding principle, we are proud to have been able to provide meaningful relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, giving back over $130 million to policyholders. As one of Canada’s most trusted brands, we will continue to innovate and offer programs that cater to the evolving consumer lifestyle. And because we are growing, we need great new Associates.

We are performance driven and make sure that Associates have the tools they need to succeed. Life long learning is encouraged through programs and educational support, to empower every Associate to reach their fullest potential.

We also offer: • Workplace Wellness – a holistic program that offers a healthy, respectful, and safe workspace where Associates can thrive • Rewards and Recognition – recognizing Associates who demonstrate our core values • Financial Wellness – tools and resources, including a generous pension, RRSP and TFSA program

Join us today! Explore our many insurance opportunities at:


®/™ CAA trademarks are owned by, and use is authorized by the Canadian Automobile Association.

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10/11/2021 3:30:37 am



Perils in commercial property COVID-19, climate change and rising construction costs haven’t made things easy for the commercial property sector this year. IBA talks to experts in the space to find out where it might be headed next

COMMERCIAL PROPERTY insurance protects buildings from threats ranging from fire to theft to natural disasters. As such, premiums and coverage depend on variables such as the location and condition of the building or property, whether it’s occupied, and what kind of fire and security oversight it has. Therefore, it’s important to consider perspectives from different regions when assessing the state of the commercial property sector in Canada. In a word, Rick DeBruyn describes the past year in commercial property insurance as “volatile.” The regional vice-president for the Prairie region at CNA, DeBruyn provides overall management and underwriting resources for Northwestern Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. As insurers work to improve loss ratios, he says, there have been restrictions in capacity and price increases – thus making it a difficult year for underwriters, brokers and insureds. In the next year, DeBruyn hopes to see underwriting stabilize. Matt Ripley, senior vice-president of commercial insurance for Nova Scotiabased Agile Underwriting Solutions, has also observed increases in premiums and cuts to underwriting capacity. He notes that challenges related to supply and availability have driven up commercial property premiums between 5% and 10% in 2021.


“With some standard domestic carriers unwilling to write certain property lines, alternative markets are being called upon to provide capacity in areas they haven’t previously participated in,” he says. “When capacity is scarce, it’s reasonable to expect that the cost associated with purchasing capacity will increase as markets look for rating adequacy for given classes.” Ripley says he’s seen the biggest capacity cuts in residential realty, condo/strata and hospitality (property and general liability), as well as for contractors involved in snow removal operations, hot process roofing and plumbing. “Across most lines of business, there is available capacity in the market for excess commercial general liability,” he says. “The challenge for many in the industry has been placing commercial umbrella coverage, which also sits in excess of an auto liability policy. In the past, attachment points for the excess auto were much lower, and this, in effect, created a situation where GL underwriters provided auto liability coverage at a level that is very close to primary. In today’s hard market conditions, GL underwriters are not prepared to provide umbrella liability coverage at low attachment points, and this has created a gap for some insureds.” Ripley says these market pressures

have remained constant over the past year; accounts are now entering their second and third renewal cycles with increased rate and challenges with capacity. And he doesn’t foresee them easing for a while. “In conversations with both domestic insurer partners and the Lloyd’s market, we do not expect any significant changes in the current commercial property market conditions until, at the earliest, Q3 of 2022,” he says.

The biggest issues Going forward, DeBruyn identifies three main challenges for the commercial property sector. First, there’s climate change, which is leading to more catastrophic weather events such as floods, hail and wildfires. Western Canada has seen record-setting temperatures and droughts, along with several 1-in500 or 1-in-1,000-year weather events. In addition, heavy rainstorms have been overwhelming sewer infrastructure and causing flash flooding. DeBruyn foresees a greater focus on underwriting these natural catastrophes, which will be aided by advanced modelling tools that can factor in the evolving risk of climate change. However, he notes that there’s an education component to it as well – many insureds simply don’t believe they will be affected by a catastrophic event.

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The second major challenge, he says, is determining insured values as construction costs continue to rise. “The large swings in the costs of building materials such as lumber during the past year have made it challenging to estimate adequate materials and labour,” DeBruyn says. “Inflationary increases each year may not be keeping up with the costs of materials and labour. If clients are not paying close attention to insured values, they may find themselves underinsured and possibly face a co-insurance penalty in the event of a loss.” The third challenge DeBruyn highlights is the added risk that comes from businesses moving to the outskirts of cities, where fire protection can be spotty at best.

“In conversations with both domestic insurer partners and the Lloyd’s market, we do not expect any significant changes in the current commercial property market conditions until, at the earliest, Q3 of 2022” Matt Ripley, Agile Underwriting Solutions “People may believe that a full-time professional urban fire department may respond to a premises, but the reality may be that it is a volunteer fire brigade that responds, with a much longer mobilization time and limited

firefighting equipment for industrial fires,” he says. “Without strong local territorial knowledge and good tools, underwriters may find that risks are not as well protected as they might think and have priced for.”

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10/11/2021 1:07:30 am




Clean and in-appetite accounts are seeing increases of 10% to 25%

Accounts with losses are experiencing rate increases upwards of 30%

Difficult segments – seafood, realty, frame and distressed – are seeing rate increases of 40% or more

Rebounding from COVID-19 Then, of course, there’s the elephant in the room – the COVID-19 pandemic. Ripley says the onset of the pandemic in early 2020 merely exacerbated market conditions that had been hardening since 2019. “Shortly after March 2020, all carriers wrote a pandemic or communicable disease exclusion into their wordings where not already present,” he says. “Properties that had once been occupied on a daily basis quickly became unoccupied as a result of governmentmandated shutdowns, as well as a shift to remote workplaces. Each of these conditions

“With vaccination availability and uptake trending positively, we’re beginning to see parts of the world slowly reopen and getting back to a place that resembles our lives pre-pandemic,” he says. “Going forward, insureds will undoubtedly be looking for products that afford coverage for first-party property damage or lost business income related to losses caused by a pandemic or similar event. At this point in time, there is still uncertainty about how some policies might respond to pandemic claims. This uncertainty has created a longer tail than would normally be expected on property lines. The challenge for clients

“Inflationary increases each year may not be keeping up with the costs of materials and labour. If clients are not paying close attention to insured values, they may find themselves underinsured” Rick DeBruyn, CNA

Catastrophe deductibles are still being closely reviewed

Many markets may see increased deductibles or reduced/removed capacity for flood

Fresh capacity is starting to come through from the London market Source: Insurance Market Report: Canada, Mid-Year Review 2021, Aon


have led to a further withdrawal of capacity and to increased pricing, as there was even further uncertainty around deteriorating property risk profiles on an individual and portfolio basis.” DeBruyn, however, has noticed a possible silver lining to the pandemic. “With insurers seeing improved results, we have to ask whether increased profitability is a result of stronger rates during the hard market cycle or a drop in the number of claims during lockdowns and reduced business activity,” he says. “As life gets back to normal and businesses reopen and scale back up their operations, insurers will be watching to see whether loss activity returns to pre-pandemic levels.” But even as the pandemic abates, it’s likely to remain fresh on the minds of both insurers and insureds, Ripley says.

acquiring coverage in a post-pandemic world will be in obtaining appropriate products that protect against their perceived exposures – in particular, as it relates to those segments most directly impacted by COVID-19.” The pandemic has also had a lasting impact on how brokers and insurers communicate with their clients, DeBruyn points out. “One disadvantage of the pandemic has been the limitation of in-person interaction, resulting in fewer opportunities for insurers and brokers to meet directly on-site with customers,” he says. “We’ve all learned to do things remotely and have days filled with video calls and emails, but it doesn’t replace the benefits of face-to-face interactions. Strong lines of communication are critical to ensure the end customer obtains the best options available.”

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APPOINTMENTS Senior management and the Board of Directors are pleased to announce the appointment of: Cara Cameron, cpa, fcip

Darren P. Borodenko, ba, cip, crm Jeff Kunzelman Director of Corporate Underwriting

Director of Information Technology

Cara Cameron is a proud graduate of Acadia University where she completed a Bachelor of Business Administration. She joined Grant Thornton LLP and earned a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA,CA) Designation in 2004.

Darren has over 33 years of experience in the Property and Casualty insurance industry in various roles including underwriting, marketing and management. He has been with The Portage Mutual Insurance Company for over 14 years where he has held the positions of Marketing Representative and Commercial Lines Business Development Manager. Most recently, as the Corporate Commercial Insurance Manager, Darren has overseen the profitable growth and success of the Commercial Insurance portfolio. His responsibilities include corporate underwriting, growth, profitability, product development, training and marketing.

Jeff is an IT professional with over 20 years experience in the field leading organizations through positive change. He started his career working for the Ontario government and later moved on to manage IT for Lakeshore School Division and Prairie North Health Region. Within the field of IT, Jeff is passionate about technology infrastructure and connectivity while working with several Internet service providers in Manitoba to expand services to under-served communities. Since starting at Portage Mutual in 2017, Jeff has successfully centralized and stabilized our core network infrastructure and was instrumental in the rapid work-from-home transition.

As Director of Corporate Underwriting, Darren retains his Commercial Insurance responsibilities and takes on the management of the Residential and Farm portfolios.

Jeff lives in Oakville with his partner and while not at his desk, Jeff can be found working on or traveling in his vintage highway bus.

Chief Future of Work

Her insurance career began when she joined The Kings Mutual Insurance Company as VicePresident Finance in 2007. She was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in 2015 and hired as President & CEO by the Board of Directors in 2017. During that time, Cara played a key role in strategy, merger & acquisition activities, governance, reinsurance, information technology, and human resources. She holds a Fellow Chartered Insurance Professional (FCIP) Designation. Her tenure with the company ended in July 2021 when they merged with a property & casualty mutual insurer. Cara is passionate about people and over the past three years developed expertise in the areas of strategic change management, collaborative cultures and elevated leadership. She has served on the Board of Farm Mutual Re, NAMIC Farm Mutual Conference Board and the NAMIC Diversity & Inclusion Board. Cara currently resides in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia with her husband, four children and mini-labradoodle. She loves spending time in nature and recently joined the world of geocaching. Cara also enjoys yoga, wellness and is a member of the 5AM Club!

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Darren also serves as the company’s Corporate Ombudsman. Darren has a Bachelor of Arts (Economics) degree from the University of Manitoba as well as his Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) and Canadian Risk Management (CRM) designations. Darren and his wife Terri live in Winnipeg and have two daughters, Kelsey and Madison.

Jei Kohlenberg, pmp Director of IT Operations

Jei is a designated Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), who has led cross functional development teams on software and integration projects in multiple industries for over a decade. He has continued in this role as a Business Analysis and Project Manager for the last six years with The Portage Mutual. Passionate about learning, innovation, and business, Jei is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Liverpool. In his spare time, he enjoys working with his wife Jennifer on their farm, as well as traveling and camping with their two children Caden and Catherine.

10/11/2021 1:07:37 am

You take the cake Thank you for making us a part of your story, and for being a part of ours. Specialty Insurance • Property & Casualty • Surety • Risk Solutions • Association & Affinity Business

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10/11/2021 1:07:42 am



IBC spotlights 37 Canadian brokerages that are consistently going above and beyond for their clients



Feature article............................................... 36 Methodology................................................. 37 5-Star Brokerages 2021............................... 39 Profiles........................................................... 40

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THE LEADERS OF THE PACK A GOOD BROKERAGE is like a fine matchmaker. With countless insurers across Canada offering a complex mix of policies and packages, a business could easily get lost in the details when trying to go it alone. However, a good brokerage has the connections, customer service, product knowledge and working efficiency required to meet clients’ needs quickly and consistently.

Then there are those factors that are more intangible. “There is no one thing that a brokerage has to do to be amazing,” says Joseph Carnevale, president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO). “It’s all about the little things they do to really stand out. Ultimately, the goal is the attract the clients they want and keep the ones they have.”


Product knowledge

Getting best possible coverage



“There is no one thing that a brokerage has to do to be amazing. It’s all about the little things they do to stand out” Joseph Carnevale, Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario

97% 97%

Speed of fulfilling requirements


Ability to get the best deal/pricing


Understanding your business


That means helping brokerages meet consumer demands, either through regular face-to-face meetings, by embracing cuttingedge technologies to connect virtually or adapting to a hybrid approach that leverages a mix of both. “I happen to think that the most successful brokerages in Canada are going to be the ones that give their clients and potential clients all the tools they could want to interact with them and then let the clients decide how best to do that and how they want to interact,” Carnevale says.

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Meeting market challenges It’s certainly not an easy time for brokerages right now – Carnevale says the hard market is a lingering concern. “Clearly we’ve all been impacted by the lack of availability of certain commercial products or affordable lines,” he says. “That’s been a challenge and one that continues to plague us. I see the light at the end of the tunnel – I think we’re well beyond the halfway point of this hard market. I think some segments are opening up, and some insurers are opening up their markets to quoting quicker and wanting to regrow that business. So I see 2022 being a positive year.” Basil Crosbie, director of the Insurance Brokers Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (IBAN), agrees that the market is “very, very tight … There are issues with capacity and willingness to write.” He says that means brokers need to go the extra mile to retain their customers – something that can be especially difficult in Newfoundland, where fewer insurance companies are operating. “We’re a little bit different than the rest of the country in that we don’t have as many insurers or players in the market,” Crosbie says. “The commercial side is a few more players, but still not near the number of markets that are in the rest of the country. So it puts pressure on the broker for sure.” Then, of course, there’s the COVID-19 pandemic, which has impeded interaction as people continue to navigate business from their homes instead of offices. Brokerages have also been challenged to keep up with demand for the latest technology solutions. “We work with insurance companies and tech vendors to find the best way to deliver policy documents, changes, requests for quotes, requests for billing information, renewals, all these things in the most effi-

cient way possible,” Carnevale says. “Because what we really want to do is make sure brokers can deliver the best possible service and the best possible combination of prices and coverages to consumers in the quickest way possible and in the most efficient way possible.” Working with tech providers to help brokers with processes and services is also a top priority at IBAN. Crosbie says education is another major factor in making sure brokers stay ahead of the curve. “Like much of the country, it’s a big thing to make sure our employees and members are educated and understand what they’re selling and so forth,” he says. In other words, it’s all about helping brokers improve the insurance-buying process for consumers. “Often when they’re speaking to an agent or representative, consumers are looking to feel comfortable with the individual and that they know what they’re talking about – that they’re going to get good customer service and they’re going to get a fair shake,” Crosbie says. “I don’t think that price is the only factor, but it definitely does factor into it. I think it boils down to relationship-building – that the broker is on your side, that you’re going to get good customer service, that the broker has good knowledge.”

METHODOLOGY To select the 5-Star Brokerages for 2021, Insurance Business Canada sourced feedback from insurance brokerages and their clients over a period of 15 weeks. IBC’s research team began by asking brokers and their clients across the country to nominate the brokerages they felt were most deserving of recognition. The team also spoke with leading risk managers in Canada, asking them to name the top brokerages they work with. The in-depth information gathered enabled the research team to assign weighted values to each area of brokerage service. Winners were also judged based on the strength of their individual nominations. At the end of the research period, the brokerages that received the highest rankings in terms of work quality, specialist expertise and client service were named 5-Star Brokerages.

88% of clients said a brokerage’s product knowledge is very important

What clients want


As part of the survey to determine the 5-Star Brokerages, IBC asked consumers what they felt was most important when dealing with a brokerage. Customer service was the top response – 98% of clients said it’s important, and 94% deemed it ‘very important.’ When asked to elaborate, clients said they enjoyed “the ability to talk to an actual live broker” and getting “prompt feedback to any questions or concerns with coverage.” It’s clear that customer service is an equally

of clients said getting the best coverage is very important

81% of clients said a brokerage’s ability to get the best deal is very important

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6% Projected compound annual growth rate

$20.52 billion Incremental growth projected between 2020 and 2025

6.3% Estimated year-over-year growth for 2021

38% Proportion of growth expected to originate in North America

Source: Technavio

“When they’re speaking to an agent or representative, consumers are looking to feel comfortable with the individual and that they know what they’re talking about” Basil Crosbie, Insurance Brokers Association of Newfoundland and Labrador


important priority for Canada’s best brokerages. “We put our clients’ needs above everything,” says Avant Insurance Brokers, one of this year’s 5-Star Brokerages. “We are more than just a product vendor. The insurance side of things comes after service and taking care of people.” Product knowledge and comprehensive coverage were also quite important to clients – 97% said those two areas are key when looking for a brokerage to work with. That’s something 5-Star Brokerage Oracle RMS takes to heart: “We leverage our extensive network of insurance providers and our lengthy history in providing insurance products to find the best insurance package for each of our clients,” the brokerage told IBC. “We don’t believe in selling you a one-sizefits-all insurance package. Rather, we work directly with our clients to understand their potential risks and establish a coverage plan for those specific areas.” Ninety-five per cent of clients deemed speed, pricing and a broker’s understanding of their business important factors when choosing a brokerage. “Modern customers value expert advice; however, they want it to be effortless. We believe in meeting our customers where they are,” says 5-Star Brokerage BrokerLink, adding that it makes “digital solutions available for everyone, regardless of demographic.” While it didn’t appear on the list of survey criteria, trust was by far the most common response when IBC asked clients to name any other factors they consider when selecting a brokerage. Clients said they value brokers who are “caring and knowledgeable” and “genuine and honest.” Munn Insurance, another 5-Star Brok­ erage, told IBC it has “earned a reputation for always having your best interests at heart. That’s why we deliver truly exceptional service. We listen, and then we deliver.”

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BROKERAGES vant Insurance A Brokers Phone: 204-989-7000 Email: Website:

rokerLink B

unn Insurance M

Phone: 800-361-2376 Email: Website:

Phone: 855-726-8627 Email: Website:

illyard Insurance B Group Phone: 905-346-2190 Email: Website:

RGinsure K


Phone: 888-888-6667 Email: Website:

OVC Assurance Premium Insurance Brokers, a division of Oracle RMS SN Insurance Brokers

Alteri Insurance

HUB International

Archway Insurance

IDC Insurance Direct Canada

CMB Insurance Brokers

KASE Insurance

Costen Insurance

Leibel Insurance Group

Diamond Insurance Group

Louis Meier Insurance Brokers

Duliban Insurance Brokers

Millennial’s Choice Insurance

FCA Insurance Brokers

Mitchell & Whale Insurance Brokers

Ferrari & Associates Insurance & Financial Services

My Insurance Broker

Fuse Insurance

NFP Canada

Zahir’s My Insurance Guy/ Oracle RMS

Hardy-Colborne Insurance Brokers

Oracle RMS

Zavano Insurance Services

Square One Insurance Services

Stanhope Simpson Insurance


Wells Insurance Services

Western Financial Group

Westland Insurance Group

Young & Haggis Insurance Services

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KRGINSURE Phone: 888-888-6667 Email: Website:


T BILLYARD INSURANCE GROUP Phone: 905-346-2190 Email: Website:


or Billyard Insurance Group, being a 5-Star Brokerage is all about putting our clients first,” says president Stephen Billyard. “From the quoting process to our 24/7 claims service, our brokers prioritize clients’ needs by providing an outstanding customer experience and personalized, affordable coverage.” Billyard Insurance Group (BIG) was founded in 1998 as a local family-run insurance brokerage in Welland, Ontario, and has since grown into a national brokerage with over 60 locations and nearly 600 employees across Ontario, Alberta, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. In December 2020, BIG launched a charitable foundation, BIG Hearts, which raises funds for vulnerable children in Canada. Over the past three years, BIG has also been the recipient of several prestigious industry awards, including being named a Top Insurance Employer and Top 10 Brokerage by IBC for three years running. In 2021, BIG ranked at number 52 on The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business list of Canada’s Top Growing Companies with three-year revenue growth of 1,141%. “Our clients can trust that they will receive the highest level of care and honesty from BIG brokers,” Billyard says. “We know that one size does not fit all, so BIG insurance brokers take the time to listen and understand each person’s needs and recommend customized coverage for their situation.”


he RRJ Insurance Group Limited, led by Abraham Baboujian and Jennifer James, formed in 2009 in Toronto. All acquisitions were amalgamated under RRJ Insurance Group, and the company created KRGinsure as a single operating brand for all its locations. Over the past 12 years, the company has grown into one of the country’s larger independent brokerages. With its acquisitions, it boasts rich histories and has deep roots in several communities dating as far back as 1906. Like many brokerages throughout Canada, one of KRGinsure’s major challenges was adapting quickly to the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic. “At the beginning of the pandemic, we reacted swiftly in order to transition from working in an office to having the majority of our employees working from home,” says president and COO Paul Martin. “Our focus was always making sure we were there for our customers during this extremely difficult time for them. We are in the customer service business, and the health and safety of our staff is an important component of commitment to our customers. Throughout the pandemic, we maintained putting their needs first, helping us focus on delivering great customer service as we navigate through the different stages of the pandemic. Our success in our ability to quickly pivot to working from home will bring everlasting changes to how we do business.” KRGinsure is a full-service general insurance brokerage, servicing clients from coast to coast, providing insurance solutions in all segments (personal and commercial) and excelling in looking after high-net-worth and complex commercial/industrial clients. SC Insurance, a strategic partner, offers a full range of life and benefits solutions. KRGinsure partners with many leading Canadian insurers, which enables it to offer customized solutions to create individualized product offerings for its customers. The brokerage offers a high-quality product and superior customer service, with a belief that “all brokers are not created equal.” “[We distinguish ourselves with] our responsiveness to customers’ needs, our extensive market reach, the depth of knowledge within our team that comes up with solutions and our ‘never give up’ attitude,” Martin says.

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F Cole Leitch, president and CEO

AVANT INSURANCE BROKERS Phone: 204-989-7000 Email: Website:

or Avant Insurance Brokers, being a 5-star Brokerage takes an unwavering commitment to clients and staff. “We always put our clients ahead of everything,” says president and CEO Cole Leitch. “Every decision we make from a strategic standpoint is based on how we can better serve our clients. We always focus on client need – people before profits.” Leitch started Avant Insurance Brokers with his father, Nick, in March 2016; the brokerage now employs a staff of 15, and recruiting is underway for two more positions. In 2019, Avant Insurance Brokers was named one of IBC’s Top 10 Brokerages in Canada, and it has been nominated twice for Broker of the Year at the Insurance Business Canada Awards. Leitch himself was also nominated for Young Gun of the Year in 2017, 2018 and 2019, winning in 2019. He was also recognized by IBC as an Elite Broker in 2016. In 2019 and 2020, Avant Insurance Brokers was named to Canadian Business and Maclean’s list of the fastest-growing startups in Canada. Since its inception, Avant has grown by 800%. “We foster a patient, compassionate and fun-loving environment for our team and clients,” Leitch says. “We will relentlessly explore all options on behalf of our clients. We are also incredibly appreciative and celebrate the success of our clients and team.”


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10/11/2021 1:36:38 am




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The sixth annual Insurance Business Canada Awards have arrived – and once again, the finalists have raised the bar for service, innovation, leadership and professionalism AFTER A YEAR in which the COVID-19 pandemic and a hard market continued to disrupt the insurance industry, the time is right to recognize the brokers, brokerages, insurers, underwriters, BDMs, MGAs and service providers who went above and beyond in their commitment to industry best practices and to serving Canadians. It’s never been more important to celebrate the achievements of those who make the insurance industry great – to inspire us all to continue working hard, stay connected as an industry and, most importantly, continue to rebound from a period of massive upheaval. The Insurance Business Canada Awards team received an incredible response to our nationwide call for nominations. We would like to extend a massive thank you to those who submitted a nomination, as

well as to our esteemed judges for their important work in selecting the winners. This year’s winners and excellence awardees were revealed at a virtual awards show on November 17 and 18. Following great feedback from last year’s event, the Insurance Business Canada Awards team brought back live panels with the finalists, who shared their inspiring insights and success stories. Panel recordings will be available on-demand on the Insurance Business Canada website. The event and the award winners will also be commemorated in a special digital edition of IBC out in early February, which will take an in-depth look at the winners’ achievements. Insurance Business Canada and Key Media would like to congratulate all of this year’s finalists, who are listed on the following pages.






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 Alena Kharkavets BrokerLink

 Chris Karram SafeBridge Private Wealth

 Cameron Copeland Cansure

 Haaris Karimullah Leibel Insurance Group  Harry Jhajj Billyard Insurance Group  Karim Chandani HUB International  Maggie Yang CIS Insurance Brokers  Melanie Hemmerling Westland Insurance  Morgan Roberts RH Insurance  Sacha Poshni Billyard Insurance Group  Sheri Clay J.T. Insurance Services (Canada)  Simar Sidhu Diamond Insurance Group  Terence D. Cairns Wilson M. Beck Insurance Services (Alberta)



 Dave Watson WFS Wealth & Financial Strategies  Diana Feliz KASE Insurance  Hayden BarreHenuset Aspire Financial Services  Jiten Puri

 Daphné de Vitton APRIL Canada  Jason Storah Aviva Canada  Rick Jaitley My Insurance Broker  Saad Mered Zurich Canada  Sherif Gemayel Trufla Technology

 Lyle MacDougall Strata Wealth

 Silvy Wright Northbridge Financial Corporation

 Mary Mazza Desjardins

 Stephen Billyard Billyard Insurance Group

 Neena Matabudul Billyard Insurance Group – Mississauga East

 Sukhdeep Kang Armour Insurance Brokers

 Salini Uthirakumaran Independent advisor

 Terri Botosan HUB Financial

 Shanti Longstaff RBC Insurance

 Tim Shauf The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group

 Vincent Champagne CHES Vie



LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY This is the highest honour at the Insurance Business Canada Awards. This award recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the insurance profession throughout their career. It acknowledges an individual with an established history of distinguished service to the insurance profession, who has exhibited leadership and provided inspiration to others while keeping the interests of the profession at the top of their priorities, as evidenced by their accomplishments.


 Tracy Archer Knight Archer Insurance

Former president and CEO, Sun Life Corporate director, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board



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 Armin Habibi Insureit Group  Brooke McClelland Rubach Wealth  Cody Macpherson KASE Insurance  Denae Popp Surex  Dorothea Dowling Axis Insurance Group  Fady Kamel All-Risks Insurance Brokers – Erin Mills branch  Karim Zein HUB International  Marisa Berezowski Aon  Masud Nadiri My Insurance Broker  Safeeullah Patel Billyard Insurance Group






 Alice Keung Independent corporate director

 Canada Protection Plan

 Agile Underwriting Solutions

 Chubb Canada

 APOLLO Insurance

 Desjardins

 APRIL Canada

 Empire Life

 Burns & Wilcox Canada

 Edwina McKennon APOLLO Insurance  Erika Schurr Travelers Canada  Erin Gattoni CNA  Jacinta Whyte Ecclesiastical Insurance

 Manulife  Medavie Blue Cross  Sun Life  TD Insurance



 Cansure  CHES Special Risk  GroupOne Insurance  PAL Insurance Brokers Canada

 Jurenda Landry KASE Insurance

 Premier

 Lisa Wolfe QBE

 Special Risk Insurance Managers

 Lori Cassidy Zurich Canada

 Totten Insurance Group

 Maria Flores Carte Risk Management

 Unique Risks

 Shkya Ghanbarian Eddy Solutions




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 Ecclesiastical Insurance

 Alteri Insurance

 Abatis Risk Management

 KASE Insurance

 Armour Insurance Brokers

 Knight Archer Insurance

 FCA Insurance Brokers

 Medavie Blue Cross

 KASE Insurance

 Preferred Insurance Group

 Leibel Insurance Group

 Red River Mutual

 Oracle RMS

 Squamish Insurance, a division of Vancity

 OVC Assurance

 TD Insurance

 Wilson M. Beck Insurance Services

 The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group

 Diamond Insurance Group



 Aviva Canada  CNA  Ecclesiastical Insurance

 Excel Beyond Insurance

 Intact Insurance

 Fuse Insurance

 Northbridge Insurance

 Louis Meier Insurance Broker  Millennial’s Choice Insurance  Sussex Corporate Risk  Wells Insurance Services

 Youngs Insurance Brokers



 The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group  The Mutual Fire Insurance Company of British Columbia  Travelers Canada  Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company  Unica Insurance




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 Diana Vardy Travelers Canada

 Anne-Marie Vanier Independent director and consulting actuary

 Amy Morrison Gore Mutual Insurance Company

 Baker Tilly

 Benaaz Irani Desjardins

 Heather Dusenbury Aviva Canada

 Contractor Connection Canada

 Calvin Lim UW Insure Brokers

 Joyce Rajadurai APRIL Canada

 Chloe Lyons APOLLO Insurance

 Kevin Williams Chutter Underwriting Services

 Dillon Johnson Northbridge Insurance  Janu Debalathas APOLLO Insurance  Jeff Haddon Red River Mutual  Kristina Snelgrove APRIL Canada  Kristina Van Ameyde TuGo Travel Insurance  Michael Craig SGI Canada  Nicole Burrell Unica Insurance  Sharon Sharma CAA Insurance Company

 Janice Farrell Jones TD Insurance  Jodie Kaufman Davis Burns & Wilcox Canada  Natasha Mascarenhas Aviva Canada  Nicole Burrell Unica Insurance  Rachael MacLean Travelers Canada

 Charles Taylor

 DSB Claims  Gallagher Bassett  Sedgwick

 Louise Dion Peace Hills Insurance  Mary Giunta Arch Insurance Canada  Mashood Ali Agile Underwriting Solutions  Nicole Hachey Intact Insurance

 Sofia Colaiacovo Equitable Life

 Rowena Chan Sun Life

 Noel Dodd Special Risk Insurance Managers

 Zak Barbary Zensurance

 Sukhdeep Kang Armour Insurance Brokers

 Rachana Patel CHES Special Risk  Ray Edwards Victor Canada  Snigdha Ghosh Billyard Insurance Group – Mississauga East

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 Applied Systems Canada

 Billyard Insurance Group

 APOLLO Insurance

 Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty

 Calefy

 BrokerLink

 BFL Canada

 FIRST Insurance Funding of Canada

 GTI Broker Group

 Global IQX

 HUB International

 Goose Digital

 Lloyd Sadd Insurance Brokers


 Sharp Insurance

 ProNavigator

 Surex

 Trufla Technology

 Western Financial Group

 UW InsureTech  Vertafore Canada

 APRIL Canada

 BrokerLink  Fuse Insurance  isure insurance  Surex  Unica Insurance

 APRIL Marine  CNA  Crawford & Company (Canada)  HUB International  KASE Insurance

 UW Insure Brokers

 Northbridge Insurance

 Zensurance

 Red River Mutual

 Westland Insurance  Zensurance

 Saskatchewan Mutual Insurance Company  Travelers Canada

“ 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, co-founder,


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NOMINATIONS he nationwide call for nominations was T open to all members of the Canadian insurance industry from May to July 2021.

RESEARCH he awards team conducted research T and drew on knowledge and information gained through Insurance Business Canada to verify and support all nominations received.



Vice-president Insurance Consulting Group

Chief operating officer IBAO



CEO Insurance Brokers Association of Alberta

President Toronto Insurance Women’s Association



Managing director Canadian Association of Managing General Agents

Professor of insurance Humber College

FINALISTS nce all nominations were considered O 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 to address the category criteria in more detail. Finalists were announced in Insurance Business Canada and on the Insurance Business Canada Awards website.

JUDGING ll submissions were forwarded to an A independent judging panel composed of insurance and finance industry leaders and senior representatives. Voting commenced in October 2021; the panel assessed and voted for the winners in each category according to the relevant category criteria, using impartial, balanced, incisive and fair judgment. Any judge with a conflict of interest in a category recused themselves from judging that category.

WINNERS sing a simple points system to aggregate U the judges’ votes, the awards team determined the finalist with the top score in each category. Those winners were announced at the virtual awards show on November 17 and 18; the remaining finalists were named excellence awardees. All winners and excellence awardees will be promoted in Insurance Business Canada’s online channels.



President and CEO Advocis

Advisor to the president and CEO Insurance Brokers Association of Saskatchewan



President and CEO JR Tisdale Consulting Services

Co-executive director Canadian Association of Financial Institutions in Insurance

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A new age in cyberattacks calls for a new kind of protection. With Victor Cyber, your clients can stop cyberattacks in their tracks! It’s a full insurance package with competitively priced coverage and exclusive access to risk management services—such as phishing training and dark web monitoring— through a cyber incident mobile app, Victor Response. Here’s what’s available via Victor Cyber:

Cyber incident response (30 minute response time via Victor Response)

Ask the expert for cyber risk mitigation and best practices questions

Coverage for cybercrime such as extortion and corporate identity theft

...and more! See what our new Cyber product can do for your clients.

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INSURANCE TECHNOLOGY PROVIDERS Insurance professionals name 10 firms that are leading the Canadian insurance industry into a more digital future



Feature article.............................................................. 52 Methodology................................................................ 53 5-Star Insurance Technology Providers 2021......... 55 Profile............................................................................ 55

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TECHNOLOGICAL TRANSFORMATION “Our platform automates timeconsuming administrative tasks while consolidating multiple systems to a single platform to deliver a more streamlined experience to clients and brokers” Morgan Girouard, Insurego

GLOBAL FUNDING for insurance technology is booming. Following a recordbreaking $7.4 billion raised in the first half of 2021, insurtechs pulled in another $3.1 billion in the third quarter, according to Willis Towers Watson. That’s a 23% increase over the same period last year and the second largest funding total of any quarter on record. Here in Canada, insurtech investment has helped sustain everything from underwriting platforms for property intelligence to suites of artificial intelligence tools for automating



Client and policy management


Quote management


Meeting market needs


Insurance rating Claims processing and management


business processes. To settle on the 5-Star Insurance Technology Providers for 2021, IBC surveyed brokers and insurtechs to find out which companies are truly transforming the industry.


Agency management




Non-CRM prospect/ sales management


Predictive analytics


APRIL Canada’s APRIL ON platform, which launched in 2020, offers a prime example of how new solutions can merge digital capabilities and human expertise. APRIL ON empowers brokers to receive quotes in three minutes across several lines of business, including personal marine, residential, personal auto, contractors, COC, student housing, E&O and cyber. Unlike other tools, APRIL ON can generate premium estimates after approximately five questions and has the ability to automatically decline a risk, saving valuable time for brokers. “At APRIL, we put broker understanding at the heart of everything we do, and it has

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been central to the APRIL ON project,” says Daphné de Vitton, CEO of APRIL Canada. “Consumer research, observing the way brokers work and co-creative initiatives helped APRIL ON address broker pain points, especially the need for fast turnaround in a hard market context. This research phase helped our in-house digital team develop a relevant tool. “With now almost 40 products online, 3,500 broker accounts and generating over $2 million in premium so far this year, the portal built its success on intuitive use and fast response time. We continuously improve APRIL ON by releasing new versions every two weeks.” Fellow 5-Star Insurance Technology Provider Insurego is also on a mission to help brokers save time with its Kamillio platform, which consolidates a dozen inefficient business management systems (BMS) into a single streamlined solution. “The Kamillio platform streamlines the quote and buy process, as well as automating the renewals and remarketing of existing policyholders,” says Insurego founder and CEO Morgan Girouard. “Our platform automates time-consuming administrative tasks

sions for small businesses. Foxquilt sought to provide these businesses with choice and convenience through modular, customizable and cost-effective insurance policies. “Instead of one-size-fits-all packages, we help simplify the lives of small business owners and give back control in their hands,” Morissette says. “We use a combination of data analytics and artificial intelligence to recommend the best insurance coverage and price to meet the individual needs of small business customers. Foxquilt is the first in Canada to provide small business insurance entirely online; users can quote, purchase and receive their policy through Foxquilt’s online platform. Not only can customers purchase their business insurance all online, in minutes, our modular platform recommends users only the coverages they need, making sure they’re fully protected without overpaying.”

From theory to practice It’s easy for new tech innovations to sound good on paper, of course – but actually living up to the hype is another matter. All of this year’s 5-Star Insurance Technology Providers have delivered on their promises with impressive track records for their technology.

METHODOLOGY ‘Market-leading’ is a phrase many technology companies like to use when describing their software. Now 10 companies can claim that title on the back of hard market research from the people who matter most: insurance brokers. To select the best insurance technology providers for 2021, IBC enlisted some of the industry’s top experts. During a 15-week process, IBC’s research team conducted oneon-one interviews with brokers and surveyed thousands more within IBC’s network to gain a keen understanding of what insurance professionals think about current market offerings. Technology providers were asked to nominate their solution, explaining why it stands out against its competitors and what makes it the best in the market. IBC then reached out to brokers, asking them to rate their overall satisfaction with the insurance technology providers they dealt with. The top-scoring technology and software providers were named 5-Star Award winners.

“Instead of one-size-fits-all packages, we help simplify the lives of small business owners and give back control in their hands” Mark Morissette, Foxquilt while consolidating multiple systems to a single platform to deliver a more streamlined experience to clients and brokers.” Mark Morissette, co-founder and CEO of Foxquilt, says his company’s February 2021 launch of the Foxden underwriting platform originated from a gap in insurance provi-

More than 3,500 brokers throughout Canada have joined the APRIL ON platform since its launch 18 months ago, and more than 40% of APRIL Canada’s gross written premium is now handled online. Since June 2020, APRIL ON has quoted more than 70% of business in less than two

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Brokers 60% Agents/ underwriters 30% Source: Technavio

Insurers 10%

“Internally, APRIL ON has transformed our organization. We have seen our service level improve drastically, as well as broker satisfaction” Daphné de Vitton, APRIL Canada hours and 90% in less than one business day – meeting brokers’ expectations for a fast turnaround time. The company has also improved service levels drastically over the past few months and added 18 points to its Net Promoter Score. “Internally, APRIL ON has transformed our organization,” de Vitton says. “Saving on manual tasks gives our underwriters more time to speak with brokers and be more flexible in finding insurance solutions. We have seen our service level improve drastically, as well as broker satisfaction. With APRIL


ON, we combine the best of people and technology. With new features being released, we see the platform as a new way to develop both hard and soft skills internally, as well as improving processes efficiency in a fastchanging industry and in a context of accelerated digital development. “We monitor many indicators thanks to our data team, enabling us to adjust to market needs. We can also feed our insurer markets with live insights. Our team is even more tight-knit, working towards a common goal of modernizing our ways of working

and keeping broker service at the top of our agenda.” The testimonials from brokers have been rolling in, too. “APRIL has been without a doubt the best MGA to work with in my experience,” one broker says. “Not only are they providing innovative quoting services through their APRIL ON site, but they are very easy to work with and quick to respond. For example, their launch of APRIL ON went extremely smoothly from a broker perspective. The website is extremely straightforward and saves a ton of time filling out questionnaires and waiting for underwriting responses.” At Insurego, Girouard says Kamillio has helped boost online traffic to 17 times its previous amount and has also helped reduce the time to bind a policy by 80%. Morissette, meanwhile, touts Foxden’s ability to save small business owners up to 35% on their premiums – and valuable time. “On average, it takes users one minute to receive a quote and five minutes to receive a policy on our platform – a major improvement to the days, even weeks, it may take to do the same through a broker,” he says.

Where to next? Building on the success of their existing platforms, APRIL Canada, Insurego and Foxquilt are all planning enhancements and additions over the next few years. “Our ambition is to make APRIL ON a 360 platform – a hub of services for brokers in terms of underwriting, self-care and addedvalue services for their business development,” de Vitton says. Girouard says Insurego plans to update Kamillio by “continuing to release new features which replace even more standalone integration for our customers.” And on Foxden, Morissette says, “we’re constantly adding in new professions and coverages, as well as expanding geographically to continue supporting small business owners throughout North America.”

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Insurego Kamillio

Phone: +1 647-283-2025 Email: Website:

Phone: 844-343-5625 Email: Website:

Alert Labs



Foxquilt Foxden


ProNavigator Sage

BiiCanada Biild Connect



Morgan Girouard, founder and CEO

INSUREGO Phone: 844-343-5625 Email: Website:

ur philosophy has been to deliver brokers products that they have been demanding for close to a decade now,” says Morgan Girouard, founder and CEO of Insurego, an insurtech software company delivering the Kamillio platform to the Canadian and US markets. “I grew up in the family insurance office and dreamed of a system that was streamlined, automated and eliminated double-entry, with portals and integrations,” Girouard says. Since Insurego was founded in 2018, Girouard’s vision has developed into a proprietary process automation engine that reduces processing times by up to 80% while elevating the user experience for brokers and customers alike. The all-in-one platform consolidates multiple systems, providing superior data analytics and streamlined workflows. Kamillio replaces expensive, inefficient systems with an omnichannel platform. Girouard says emerging as a 5-Star Insurance Technology Provider took “a lot of grit and determination to encourage innovation within the industry and to be a leader of positive change.”




Catalyst for postpandemic growth Richard Gurney, global head of construction at Marsh Specialty, outlines the lay of the land in the construction industry

IBC: Marsh recently published a new report, Future of Construction: A Global Forecast for Construction to 2030. What does it reveal? Richard Gurney: The fundamental finding underpinning it all is the level of growth we’re going to see over the next 10 years. From where we are now, we’re going to see 42% growth, which will take the industry to US$15.2 trillion. That’s huge in itself, but when you think about how it’s going to outstrip manufacturing and services, which is probably a surprise to some, it shows you just how significant construction is as a global industry. We’re going through this phase where construction is used as a catalyst for postpandemic stimulus. Construction is a very good way of getting capital into the system, but it’s going to move through in a phase of responding to population growth and urbanization and what’s going on regionally around the world. So, it’s an exciting time. That growth will outstrip what’s gone on in the last 10 years, and it will really be part of the bounce-back.

IBC: How has the construction industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic? RG: Initially, it proved incredibly resilient and

because if you look at the US, for example, it was far less interrupted than other parts of the world like Asia, where you’ve still got countries that are, to a lesser or greater extent, in lockdown, and they’ve got projects that have stalled for 18 months or so. It’s not a homogeneous picture, but I think the industry proved itself incredibly resilient. It learned quickly because it had to. Sites shut down, projects were delayed, contractors’ pipelines were delayed, and that all feeds into challenges around liquidity and free cash flow – so it was quite tough for contractors, particularly those that weren’t in the strongest position going into a completely unexpected event. But the business learned to adapt quickly, which is a real testament to it. And it looks now, with this next 10 years of apparent confidence and prosperity, to be in pretty good health.

IBC: How long-term do you think those impacts will be? RG: We are currently going through a very inflationary cycle. There’s this sudden boom in the demand for construction post-pandemic, and stimulus and demand for growth everywhere, but you’ve also got materials, equipment, and people in the wrong place, so that has caused a bit of a bottleneck. While that will improve, and the supply of materials, equipment, and items for incorporation will become more available as the system gets back to normal, there will still be pressure on supply chains because underlying demand for construction will be high. And of course, the industry is very reliant on supply chains – not just for materials, but for labour as well. That supply chain fragility that we’re seeing has, I think, caused a scrutiny between what is sourced globally and

THE RISE OF ESG IN CONSTRUCTION In 2020, environmental, social and governance (ESG)-related capital for infrastructure grew by 28%, according to Marsh and Guy Carpenter, which attributed the phenomenon largely to a flow of fundraising into sustainability-related strategies. “The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have quickly become intertwined with ESG,” Richard Gurney says. “If you look at board-level discussions, you’ve gone from the pandemic straight into ESG … and all the things that come with that, such as digitalization and embracing modern methods of technology. And some of that arguably was accelerated by the pandemic as well, so there are some quite significant forces impacting the industry.”

nimble. But it’s important not to generalize,


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Expected growth in global construction output for 2021


Expected growth in global construction output by 2030


Projected average annual growth in construction between 2021 and 2030

“[Construction] looks now, with this next 10 years of apparent confidence and prosperity, to be in pretty good health” what is sourced locally. We’re not moving away from globalization altogether, but there will be a look again at whether materials can be sourced locally or inter-regionally rather than internationally.

IBC: Has the construction insurance market remained resilient throughout the pandemic? RG: Obviously, there was scrutiny of succes-

sion of works clauses and that sort of thing. Insurers wanted to know that when sites were stopped and then started up again, there was rigour around that process, because it can be quite a risk-laden operation. The pandemic also coincided with what was a tough market cycle anyway, and insurers were already in a fully transitioned market phase of pricing. They also had to deal with the COVID-related claims, and some of


Projected annual growth in global infrastructure construction


Construction’s expected share of North American GDP over the next decade Source: Future of Construction: A Global Forecast for Construction to 2030, Marsh and Guy Carpenter

those are still going around the court process now, and they had to adapt to needing to provide ongoing cover at a time when capacity had dropped out to a great extent. So, it was a challenge – but the market rose to it.

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Leadership in the post-pandemic workforce Since the social restrictions introduced in 2020 forced much of the workforce to conduct business remotely, employers have been preparing for what the workplace will look like moving forward. Michelle Gibbings offers some tips for leading in the new working world

WITH COVID-19 has come challenge and opportunity for workplaces. As you look to the future as a business leader, what do you want to leave behind and carry forward in terms of how you work? Answering this question is important on two fronts. First, it’s too soon to go back to pre-pandemic ways of working, and second, COVID has accelerated workplace change, with much of it here to stay. Deciding how to go forward starts with identifying what’s working for you, your team and your organization. Think about what you have enjoyed, the benefits you have gained and why you want them to continue. Write these thoughts down and reflect on why they matter. Next, look at what hasn’t worked and why. Identifying the root cause is important to determine if a new way of working should be disbanded or just needs to be tweaked. It


can be helpful to invite your team members to participate in this review so you get their perspective on the workplace. Doing this also helps build their buy-in and commitment to future change.

the office banter and casual conversations. These impacts translate into variations in productivity and engagement. Consequently, it’s essential to recognize each team member’s needs and understand what they require to be at their best at work.

Recognize different needs As part of this process, recognize that the level of adjustment and adaptation required across workplaces has and will continue to be mixed. For some employees, the rapid move to working from home has been successful, meaning less commuting, better work-life balance and access to effective technology to support productivity. For others, it has been stressful if they are juggling home­ schooling or lack a defined workspace or the technology they need to work effectively. Added to that, people who draw energy from connecting with their colleagues are missing

Create choice Many organizations are now using the term ‘work from anywhere,’ signifying that the traditional model of sourcing employees who are willing to be locally based or to travel frequently has shifted. This opens organizations to a broader talent pool. For employees, it also means they are no longer geographically hamstrung when it comes to applying for new roles. Also, some people are keen to get back to the office and others less so. Examine your workforce and roles to determine the options and flexibility that can continue.

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It’s essential to recognize each team member’s needs and understand what they require to be at their best at work Know when virtual doesn’t work

Step up and lead

Working from home is here to stay, but connection and time spent with team members and colleagues will always be necessary. Humans are tribal creatures who are hardwired for connection. Part of the joy that people experience at work comes from the banter and chats they have with their colleagues. Nothing can replace the casual corridor conversation or chat in the break room. Recognize that not everything can be done remotely (or done as effectively remotely). Leaders will want to consider where face-toface sessions are more productive and effec­ tive, and where remote will work just as well.

Leadership matters, whatever the working environment – be it the office or home. The best leaders appreciate this and are shifting and elevating their leadership style to suit these new circumstances. They understand that in times of challenge and uncertainty, they need to provide more, not less, leadership. People want to feel they matter and know they are valued. Leaders should continue to set regular times to check in with their teams. These check-ins aren’t just about how tasks are progressing; they’re about finding out how the team member is doing in terms of emotional and mental health, too.

Support healthy practices Central to creating a healthy environment is the relationship a leader has with their team. Successful relationships are underpinned by psychological safety – an environment in which people are comfortable sharing what is or isn’t working for them and how they are feeling, and being their authentic selves. It helps if leaders role model self-care behaviours. Encourage your team to take care of their physical and mental health. Suggest they take regular breaks, notice and manage workplace stress, and have a safe space where they can talk about their mental health and well-being. Michelle Gibbings is a workplace expert and the author of Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work, Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate your Career, and the new book Bad Boss: What to Do if You Work for One, Manage One or Are One.

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Building connections across cultures In a multicultural and diverse world, it’s important to know how to interact with one another – particularly in the workforce. Cultural intelligence specialist Gaiti Rabbani explains the importance of connecting with people from different cultures and how to do it

WE ARE living in an increasingly diverse global community. More often, we are being called on to work, learn and teach in situations where there is more than one culture at play. Acquiring the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to manoeuvre effectively in multicultural environments is increasingly important. Especially in this time of restricted travel, when we are reduced to less-thanideal communication channels, cultivating cross-cultural understanding is key.

When someone behaves differently to our own social codes, we can be quick to judge their behaviour as abnormal or even wrong. Recognizing cultural expression as a learned behaviour separate from personality promotes a deeper level of understanding.

The culture iceberg Initially, when two people from different cultures come together, they observe the visible features of culture. In some cultures, including Canada, it is a sign of respect to

it is polite to hold eye contact only briefly – especially in situations where the listener may be of a higher social status. Sporadic meeting of the eyes indicates respect rather than a lack of interest. We often refer to the iceberg analogy to illustrate the concept of culture. Developed by anthropologist Edward T. Hall in the 1970s, the model showcases the depth and breadth of culture, likening the complexity of culture to an iceberg. You can only see the top 10% of an iceberg, while 90% of its mass

Recognizing your personal culture lens Research demonstrates that cultural intelligence may easily be the single greatest difference between thriving in the 21st-century world and becoming obsolete. Encountering another culture and respecting and accepting the similarities and differences from our own is a muchvalued skill as our vast world shrinks into a global village. We cannot develop this level of empathy without sharpening our own self-awareness and recognizing our personal cultural lens. Our cultural looking glasses are accustomed to our own societal rules and definitions of what is normal and what is not.


Developing your cultural understanding offers a pathway to navigating confusing situations and making appropriate adjustments to connect with others of different cultures look someone in the eye when they speak to you. It demonstrates active listening and assures the speaker that you are engaged and interested. In return, if the other person holds eye contact, it signals confidence in what is being said. In many Asian cultures, however,

sits below the waterline, out of sight. Culture is much the same; the visible layer is a very thin slice. Consider a cross-cultural business encounter. If each person relies only on the observable behaviour – in this case, eye

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contact – it will most likely trigger mutual feelings of mistrust or a question of respect. While different cultural groups may share the same underlying values, such as respect and trust, this example illustrates that the expression of these values can differ. The iceberg model highlights why we cannot judge a new culture purely on what we see. Instinctively, we know there’s more to a situation than we initially perceive. Consider what happens when someone’s behaviour goes against your cultural norms. Did you perceive the other person’s behaviour as unacceptable or disrespectful? Was your perception true? It is essential to take time to uncover the beliefs that underlie the behaviour. Developing your cultural understanding offers a pathway to navigating confusing situations and making appropriate adjustments to connect with others of different cultures. Let’s go back to the example of eye contact. There’s a tendency to confuse cultural preferences with personality traits. Could the person holding direct eye contact be perceived as rude and intimidating in Asian culture? Could the person consciously offering a fleeting glance be seen as untruthful or lacking confidence to a Canadian? Our cultural narratives start taking form during childhood, from the multiple layers of culture we experience in society. We learn the norms of the cultures we are exposed to, and these learned ideas become integral to our personal value system. To connect across cultures with people of diverse backgrounds, we first need to understand the values that mold our own lens of the world. As Henry David Thoreau said, the question is not what you look at, but what you see. Gaiti Rabbani is a cultural intelligence specialist, an executive advisor of people and culture, and founder of Rabbani Collective, a company that enables businesses to harness the potential of their people through custom learning and development programs.

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10/11/2021 1:11:22 am



Unleash your team’s creativity There are four big blockers to being creative. Nathan Baird shares a few tips for how to overcome them so your work can be as fulfilling as possible


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WITHOUT CREATIVITY, there are no ideas, and without ideas, organizations and the people within them will stagnate, and neither will reach any sort of fulfillment. We spend so much of our lives at work that we want our work to be as fulfilling as possible. Creativity plays a key role in providing this fulfillment. And it goes without saying that we need creativity right now to design and innovate our way out of COVID-19 and stagnation. We also know from the author of Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, that human beings are at their happiest (in flow or ‘the zone’) when they are creating. People actually long to express their creativity, and when we can’t, we’re more likely to feel disengaged, become unproductive and even feel depressed. So how do you unleash your team’s creativity so they are in flow more often – and increase engagement, productivity, ideas and

ideas are still just seedlings and aren’t ready for judging. We need to build on them further before we can confidently judge which are the good or bad ideas. When you are working in the creative phase, you need to ask everyone to suspend their typical business-world behaviours and take these steps to promote creativity: First, suspend your judgment so you can understand one another’s ideas. Then you can build on those ideas to come up with more breakthrough solutions.


The brain

Most of us naturally think in a linear and analytical way. This is because the brain is a massive self-organizing storage device, like all the folders on your desktop or shared drive. It’s a place where logic presides. When you ask your brain to think of an idea – say, a new type of taxi service – then it

It goes without saying that we need creativity right now to design and innovate our way out of COVID-19 and stagnation happiness? What helps is recognizing the key blockers to creativity and how to overcome them. Four of the biggest blockers to individual and team creativity are behaviour, the brain, state and space.



Our everyday business behaviour is not conducive to creativity. It’s been refined over the years to help us in a fastpaced world in which swift analysis and making fast decisions based on sound evidence are king. Assessing one idea or recommendation versus another involves elements of criticism and relies on critical reasoning skills. It’s not that this approach is wrong; it’s just not right for creativity. In the early stages of the creative process,

immediately goes into its file on taxis. And what does it find in there? All the experiences you’ve had with regard to taxis. And none of it is new thinking. What you have to do is trick your brain to go to a different file and find some different stimulus to inspire new ideas. For example, you could come up with new ideas by ‘breaking the rules’ and challenging the status quo of the taxi industry. One rule for the taxi industry used to be that you had to wait outside your location until the taxi arrived. Uber broke this rule with the development of an ETA tracking device on its app. Right now, we are having to break the rules of working, collaboration, distributing our goods and services, and, in some cases, even our entire business models.





If your state feels stuck, then ideas are impossible. During COVID-19, how we are feeling emotionally, physically, mentally and even spiritually is very important. Some of us are feeling more in flow while working from home, while others are not due to lack of socialization and faceto-face collaboration. The key to changing your state is moving. Not only does physical activity promote feelgood endorphins, but it jolts our mind from its customary groove. A walk outdoors can also inject some freshness and stimulate new ideas. We can take this further by being really playful and encouraging self-expression, which opens up our creative minds, giving us access to our own creative genius.

One of the biggest triggers of our state and creativity is the environment or space we are in. Many of our workplaces, including our work-from-home setups, are designed for meetings and getting stuff done rather than being creative. It’s important that we have spaces that encourage creativity and collaboration in all of our flexible working environments (both physical and virtual). A space for creativity is one in which you can be yourself, get away from day-to-day distractions and noise, be inspired, and become totally engrossed in the work you are doing. It could be a quiet room in your house or a local café. Right now, creativity is really important. It will not only help organizations come out of COVID-19 in better shape, but also boost team productivity and happiness. Nathan Baird is the founder of customer-driven innovation and growth firm Methodry and the author of Innovator’s Playbook: How to Create Great Products, Services and Experiences That Your Customers Will Love.

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Start Early aims to provide quality early education for less privileged children to prepare the m for admission to English schools






Year Start Early was founded


Average number of students each year


Staff members (two teachers, one project manager)


Establishing a preschool for impoverished children in his native India was an eye-opening experience for insurtech CEO Joseph D’Souza BORN INTO a middle-class family, Joseph D’Souza says he grew up “ignorant” of the challenges faced by many Indians living in poverty. However, he and his wife have made an effort to change that. “My wife, Angelina, is a teacher, and she used to volunteer with organizations to provide access to education for illiterate


communities,” says D’Souza, CEO of Ontario-based insurtech ProNavigator. “After having our first child, we decided we needed to give back in some way and help our children realize how blessed we are.” Eleven years ago, the couple founded Start Early, a preschool dedicated to providing free education to children living

in the slums of Mumbai. “The early years of Start Early came with many challenges,” D’Souza says. “But I always remember the first time we invited the parents to see their children’s progress. You could see the joy and pride on their faces when their kids were able to sing English songs and recite their ABCs.”

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