This article was produced in partnership with Munn Insurance and Intact Insurance.
Desmond Devoy, of Insurance Business Canada, sat down with C.J. Nolan, CEO and president, Munn Insurance, and Michelle Baker, director, business development, Intact Insurance, Atlantic, to talk about what sets this historic, Newfoundland-based firm apart.
Munn Insurance has gone the distance – and is making a difference, not only in how it interacts with Atlantic Canadians, but also in its early adoption of technology.
With roots going back to 1904, the Newfoundland-based brokerage was officially established in 1949, the same year the former British colony joined Canada.
Now, its 80 employees work out of four offices in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, serving 30,000 customers and delivering superb and personalized customer service – through a bold and balanced focus on both people and automation.
”I think we’ve really taken that traditional brokerage and evolved it into a more omni-channel experience,” said C.J. Nolan, CEO and president of Munn Insurance. “We look at ourselves more as a kind of technology company that secures insurance coverage for our clients.”
Nolan and his brother Adam took over the business in 2013, from their father, John Nolan. With the family succession came a strategic repositioning, and investments in technology, with a focus on, as Nolan put it, “personalizing the customer experience by utilizing data and analytics to create a more tailored insurance solution. That’s our mindset.”
That mindset is evident in the brokerage’s interactions with its customers, employees, and carriers, according to Michelle Baker, director, business development, Intact Insurance, Atlantic Canada, who has worked closely with Munn Insurance for more than a decade.
“There’s definitely a culture of innovation and collaboration,” she said. “What excites me most about Munn Insurance is watching them skillfully direct their ship forward and the attention they pay to automation and digital without losing sight of customer interactions. These items seem to be table stakes for Munn.”
Munn’s tech savvy benefits employees as well as customers.
“We’re trying to make our enterprise more user-friendly all around,” Nolan explained. “There are a lot of tasks that we do today in insurance that are tedious. They’re not what people want to do when they come to work for a brokerage. So we’re using automation to cut down on that as much as we can, so that people can focus on the parts of their jobs that add the most value to customers – and give employees the most satisfaction.”
This people-first approach underscores the culture at Munn. Despite its investments in tech and automation, the leadership at Munn knows there is no substitute for the person-to-person connection.
“People like to speak to people,” Nolan said. “We set up that expectation, upfront. We offer text and email, of course, but for the most part, if you’re going to deal with us, it’s going to be a telephone experience. Our goal is to complete customer interactions over the phone, especially for personal lines and small business clients.”
To continue delivering the kind of experience customers have come to know and expect for more than 70 years, Munn invests heavily in its people. “We spend a lot of time around recruitment, bringing on the right people, and, of course, training them,” said Nolan. To support those efforts, the brokerage has an in-house HR advisor – still not a common practice among smaller Canadian brokerages.
“We are still a small shop at the end of the day,” said Nolan. “But sometimes, small fish swim faster.”
This small fish has been recognized for its agility and success at the 2022 Insurance Business Awards, winning the XN Worldwide Award for Brokerage of the Year (10 to 100 staff) last November.
Nolan’s immediate reaction when he heard the company’s name called was, “How do we share this award? Like, how do we get a picture of the trophy with our entire team? It’s their award!”
He took advantage of an upcoming townhall and company Christmas party to get all the employees together for a photo with the award. “I thought that was a really great moment for everybody and everyone in the picture was smiling,” Nolan said. “It was really cool.”
The brokerage’s teamwork and passion are evident to Baker.
“They are visionary and their leadership skills shine through. They’re enthusiastic and passionate,” she said. “They take you along that same journey.”
Munn Insurance has been a part of Newfoundland’s insurance market since it was founded in 1949. It provides auto, property, group, leisure, home and business insurance.