It would make sense for any business to play it safe and shore up its resources during a pandemic. But for some Canadian insurance brokers, the crisis presented an opportunity for growth – and they are still growing. According to M&A advisory firm OPTIS Partners, there were 427 announced insurance agency/brokerage mergers and acquisitions in the first half of 2022, compared to H1 2021’s 369.
When it comes to M&A activity, Billyard Insurance Group (BIG) is one of the most active in the insurance broker segment. Since president Stephen Billyard and vice president Cody Douma took the reins in 2014, the company has firmly set its sights on national expansion. In this year alone, the company launched its first national branch location in Alberta, establishing its presence in Western Canada, and it expanded into Nova Scotia as well – BIG’s first step in Eastern Canada.
And while BIG looks ahead with its national expansion plans, it remains dedicated to serving the communities of Ontario – which is why Insurance Business has recognized the firm as one of this year’s 5-Star Brokerages – Ontario.
Read more: 5-Star Brokerages – Ontario 2022
BIG currently has 52 established branches in Ontario alone; the most recent being its new office in Orangeville, ON.
“A lot has changed since we were operating out of a little house in Welland, ON,” explained Stephen Billayrd, who purchased the brokerage off his parents together with his sister in 2014. “We now have 60 offices across four provinces – Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick – with over 500 employees and a quarter of a billion in gross written premium (GWP). Most of that growth has been in the last four years; that’s when we’ve really got things moving.”
“BIG actually started as a technology company, but as it evolved, we realized we are both a technology and a people company,” added Billyard. “People still want to do business in the communities where they live, and they still want the representation of a local broker. So, we focus our technology on providing tools that make the insurance buying and selling process easier. We want to make our brokers’ jobs easier, so they can focus on serving their customers.”