SUM Insurance: Everything you need to know
SUM Insurance, or Strategic Underwriting Managers, is a Canadian managing general agent (MGA) that serves the insurance market from coast to coast, counting offices in Toronto as well as Montreal. The company was founded by Travis Budd, Rick DeGrace, Stan Lam, Serge Melanson, and Jeff Somerville in 2011. It serves licensed Canadian insurance brokers and is an open market, meaning that the MGA does not require broker contracts or volume commitments from its customers.
SUM Insurance has been named a Five-Star MGA by brokers, according to Insurance Business Canada’s annual Brokers on MGAs survey. It was ranked as one of the top MGAs based on underwriting responsiveness, MGA reputation, and premium pricing.
Among its many product offerings, SUM Insurance is an underwriter of cannabis in Canada, and insured the first licensed supplier of medical marijuana to the government. Today, the company has a broad appetite in this space, and boasts a complete product suite, serving a full spectrum of companies in the cannabis industry, from licensed producers to ancillary businesses, nurseries, R&D and testing labs, and companies in the cosmetics and hemp space, among others.
Coverages for personal production and commercial operations are offered by SUM, in addition to access to risk management services, insurance for start-up operations, directors & officers liability, commercial general liability, stock coverage, as well as other offerings.
More broadly, SUM Insurance has on its menu insurance solutions related to commercial general liability, environmental, life sciences, marine, product recall, property, and intellectual property (IP), with many others likewise available.
IP for SMEs
SUM’s intellectual property offering is particularly pertinent for smaller businesses. SME business owners can be in the dark about the risks associated with intellectual property, which is intangible property that can hold valuable information key to a business’s identity, and whose ownership is typically established through a trademark, patent, or copyright.
“Most SME businesses are blissfully unaware of their IP exposure,” said Jeff Somerville, president of independent managing general agent SUM Insurance. “Protecting them against third party infringement is complex and expensive, and so is defending against claims alleging infringement against the IP of others.”
Implementing risk management strategies against threats stemming from intellectual property is a deviation from the norm when it comes to buying insurance, which is usually driven by protecting tangible property that you can touch, feel and see, explained Somerville. Nonetheless, just like with insuring a physical object – whether it’s a company car or the building in which the business exists – the owner has to protect their IP against losses caused by others as well as the damage that perceived property can do to third parties.
“Other than software folks or others working very knowingly with the patents and copyrights of others, [most SMEs] probably have no idea that there’s any real risks to them, which there quite possibly are – they could be somewhat remote, but they do exist,” said Somerville.
IP insurance tends to be bundled, typically covering off all sides of the exposure to the insured, he added. SUM’s IP insurance product supports clients if they need to defend against infringement of IP allegations and provides loss of profit cover if they are unsuccessful, while also giving the insured a chance to pursue IP infringers and includes recovery of the costs that an insured invests in pursuit of lost IP.
“Policies do provide coverage to protect and enforce your rights, so if an insured becomes aware of another person stealing their intellectual property and utilizing it for profit, the policy will provide coverage and expertise to pursue and defend their legal rights,” Somerville told Insurance Business, highlighting ‘patent trolls’ who look for opportunities to sue companies by alleging breach of patent or copyright as one potential threat. “That can be difficult to defend yourself against if you’re a small start-up, particularly with the technology play and all of a sudden you get a suit filed against you by a patent troll out of the States making a living on doing that.”