Allianz Trade in Canada, the country’s largest private trade credit insurance provider, is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2023.
Since opening its doors in 1923, the company has steered through numerous historical events and 13 major recessions. It has protected its customers from losses related to the bankruptcies of large Canadian firms such as Eaton’s in 1999 and Target Canada in 2015.
CEO David Dienesch (pictured) said that the ability to adapt and its commitment to service has buoyed Allianz Trade in Canada through troubled times.
“One hundred years ago, all we had was credit insurance and basic insolvency protection. We’ve been able to expand our product line for our core business partners,” Dienesch told Insurance Business. “We started locally, and we continue to grow this business in Canada as a leader.”
Aside from helping with unpaid receivables during these times, the company enhanced its trade credit offerings to cover political risk. It also began of offering surety bonds five years ago.
Allianz Trade, known Euler Hermes before a rebrand in 2022, operates in 52 countries with more than 5,500 employees.
Trade credit insurance has changed dramatically, according to Dienesch, who has been in the insurance industry for more than 25 years.
Fundamentally, the industry has changed in three ways, he said:
“In the 1990s, decisions could take weeks. You had to send out a form to a credit company and get the form back by snail mail. Today, we can make instantaneous decisions. We have a database of 80 million companies that our underwriters can access, giving them that speed in decision-making,” the CEO said.
Expertise has also gone from local to global. When Allianz Trade in Canada first opened its doors (as American Credit Indemnity of New York), it supported local tradesmen in the Montreal area.
“Our decisions were made locally because those companies traded locally. Now, we follow businesses throughout the world,” Dienesch said.
“We’re not just supporting local or domestic credit. We're supporting export credits. We’ve expanded with businesses and helped them gain access to the world, both Canadian businesses and businesses coming into Canada.”
Finally, diversity has grown among the ranks of the trade credit insurance companies – something Dienesch cheered.
“I've gone back and looked at old newspaper clippings where they talked about the ‘credit man.’ Now we have ‘credit managers,’” he said.
“I think insurance, overall, has seen big changes in how women are involved and in positions of power. It’s much more inclusive now.
“Allianz Trade in Canada has really seen through all these changes, adapted to the evolution in the market, and helped customers through that.”
For Dienesch, there’s still more education needed in the benefits of trade credit insurance.
“We’ve been around for all that time, but [trade credit insurance] still isn’t something as well-known as it should be,” Dienesch said. “The market penetration in this country isn’t as robust as in Europe.”
Trade credit insurance, in essence, protects businesses from bad debt. It insures companies when their customers are unable to pay due to insolvency or destabilizing political conditions.
Allianz Trade in Canada supports roughly $1 trillion in transactions per year.
“One of the things that people forget is that trade credit insurance adds stability to the marketplace. We help businesses trade securely,” said Dienesch.
“We’re the grease that keeps credit flowing, that keeps products flowing throughout the globe. We have billions in exposure in Canadian businesses and have helped many a Canadian company grow over time.”
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