Aviva Canada, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of UK-based Aviva plc, one of the world’s largest insurance groups, is a property and casualty insurance group that offers home, auto, business, and leisure/lifestyle insurance to more than three million customers.
The company has a long-standing history in Canada and traces its roots back to the early 1800s when the first Canadian-based Aviva heritage company (Canada Accident Assurance Company) was incorporated, after which the General Accident Assurance Company of Canada was incorporated in 1906. Close to a century later, several Aviva predecessors merged and, in 2003, CGU Insurance Company of Canada changed its name to Aviva Insurance Company of Canada, marking a new chapter in its history.
Aviva Canada’s 4,000-plus employees work with independent brokers as well as small and medium-sized businesses from sea to shining sea.
Under the Aviva Canada umbrella
Aviva has several insurance companies in Canada through which it does business. The Aviva Insurance Company of Canada has a wide range of personal and business insurance products and services that it provides to policyholders, doing so via a network of independent insurance brokers.
Elite Insurance Company is, meanwhile, the country’s largest insurer of leisure and lifestyle products and services, offering coverage for a variety of specialty insurance products that include recreational vehicles, mobile homes, horses and hobby farms, sailboats and other personal watercrafts as well as antique, classic and custom cars.
Rounding out the list is the Traders General Insurance Company, a leading group insurer in Canada that offers home and auto insurance to large and mid-sized groups coast to coast; Pilot Insurance Company that services Ontario exclusively; traditional home and auto coverage provider Scottish & York Insurance Co. Limited; and S&Y Insurance Company, which provides auto insurance in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Aviva Canada also has minority ownership in two broker businesses, and owns 100% of a handful of intermediaries in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia, and New Brunswick.
A focus on community
As part of its corporate philanthropy, Aviva Canada support several charities and social causes. The Aviva Community Fund has awarded $8.5 million to more than 280 charities and community groups in the country since its inception in 2009. At-risk youth, education and the environment have been some of the issues supported by the fund.
The company also partners with the Canadian Red Cross, and became the first carbon neutral insurer globally in 2006. Through My Community Fund, Aviva Canada supports its employees’ participation in volunteerism activities in their local communities by matching their personal donations and giving their staff time off to volunteer.
The community mindset extends to Canadians affected by natural catastrophes. Aviva’s national catastrophe claims team is prepared to spring into action and support local claims staff as well as customers in need when disasters strike. Aviva Canada is also keeping an eye out for future catastrophes. In 2018, the company embedded earthquake coverage in all British Columbia homeowner and tenant insurance policies, which comes at no extra cost to new and current customers renewing with Aviva and made it at the time only one of three insurers to offer earthquake insurance coverage without restrictions in all risk zones.
“While all insurers in BC offer earthquake coverage as an endorsement, until today, no company has offered it within a standard policy,” said Aviva Canada chief underwriting officer Phil Gibson. “This is concerning since our survey shows that 60% of BC homeowners believe their policy would provide financial support in event of an earthquake. No-one should be left in the lurch without coverage that they thought they had.”
Insurtech on the mind
Aviva Canada doesn’t shy away from recognizing the impacts of technology on the insurance industry. The company has a corporate fund, Aviva Ventures, through which it is building a portfolio of start-ups. It aims to invest $170 million in start-ups around the world by 2020 and takes minority equity stakes of up to 20%, usually at the Seed Plus or Series A stage. One of its investments includes Cocoon, a smart home security system that uses technology to detect low-frequency sounds caused by movement and learns the standard sound patterns around a home, sending an alert to the resident’s smartphone if it notices unusual activity.
Hackathons are another avenue of innovation that the company is investing in. Participants have a set period of time – typically, one to three days – to work in teams, and produce new products and propositions, which Aviva Canada will then explore taking to market. According to Ben Isotta-Riches, chief information officer at the company, hackathons help create a real entrepreneurial spirit inside the business. At the same time, the CIO sees Aviva’s Digital Garage, a space at the heart of Toronto’s financial district where the company develops leading-edge digital solutions and hosts events centred around technology and innovation, as becoming the cultural and physical hub of Canada’s insurtech community.
“This space is the iconic starting point of our journey; a place where we can galvanize our own organization and bring others together,” he told Insurance Business. “We will continue to make investments in different companies that have disruptive potential. We are also working with the DMZ at Ryerson to create an insurtech accelerator program to try and help foster the development of ideas here in Toronto.”
Through its partnership with a US-based provider of virtual claims technology, Snapsheet, Aviva Canada is also creating an app-based virtual claims system, which will allow customers to settle claims 20% to 40% faster than with traditional channels. A broker-branded app for Google Assistant released in February 2018 in collaboration with insurance automation solutions developer ProNavigator meanwhile gives customers the opportunity to connect to a broker using Google’s hands-free smart speakers, demonstrating Aviva Canada’s commitment to integrating technology into its products and services.