Incoming IBC president on taking the helm amid “period of uncertainty” for insurance

Celyeste Power talks about the leadership transition process and what's on her radar

Incoming IBC president on taking the helm amid “period of uncertainty” for insurance

Insurance News

By Gia Snape

After an extensive search, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has found its new president and CEO. Celyeste Power is taking the reins of the national insurance industry association in January 2023 after Don Forgeron steps down.

Speaking to Insurance Business, Power (pictured) said the IBC is “laser-focused” on helping the insurance industry overcome tremendous economic pressures.

“We are in a period of great uncertainty on all lines of business due to record-high inflation and supply chain challenges that are impacting the way that we can serve our customer,” she shared.

“People are talking about a potential recession, and of course there are global and political issues at play as well. We want to make sure that government regulators, customers, and stakeholders understand those challenges and how they are impacting the industry.”

Tackling challenges in the Canadian insurance industry

Inflation, rising costs, and lingering supply chain impacts from the pandemic have created a storm for the Canadian insurance industry. The IBC is keeping an eye on rate corrections in the global commercial insurance market.

“The market continues to correct, but with that great level of uncertainty around inflation and the supply chain disruption, some segments are still experiencing pressure, such as cyber insurance,” Power said.

Over the pandemic, more and more organizations leaned on cyber insurance to cushion the impact of increasingly complex and costly cyberattacks, causing claims to spike.

“I think the [cyber insurance] market is doing what the market needs to do, but it's certainly something we're monitoring,” Power continued. “I think the insurance industry, governments, customers, and businesses all have a role to play in making sure that our cyber hygiene is the best it can be.”

The IBC has also ramped up efforts this year to educate small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) about their cyber risks, launching an online information portal and a cyber security quiz that allows Canadians to test their knowledge of breaches and attacks.

“We recently found out that a lot of SMEs unfortunately don't have the capacity to put in a level investment required [for cyber risk management]. So, we’re doing a lot of education around that because we want to make sure that people understand their cyber risk and how they can mitigate it,” Power said.

“While cyber insurance is certainly a tool in their toolkit, things like multi-factor authentication, proper password management, and other good cyber hygiene mechanisms are also critical.”

Leadership transition underway at IBC

Forgeron announced his retirement from the IBC in June after 28 years of service with the trade association. In a statement, he acknowledged the honour of serving as the IBC’s president and CEO.

"IBC has grown to become a credible and trustworthy voice for governments, regulators and consumers who rely on insurers to provide protection to Canadians when they need it most,” Forgeron said. “I'm proud of what IBC and the industry have accomplished during my tenure.

Power said she is working closely with Forgeron and members of the IBC during the transition process through the end of the year.

“I’m very, very grateful for the support and leadership that Don has provided to myself, IBC, and the industry over the past 13 years,” Power told Insurance Business. “He leaves quite a legacy: a strong, member-led organization with a fantastic culture that’s truly focused on what matters most to Canadians and what is impacting the industry.

“I’m working as closely as possible with him and our members to ensure that IBC remains focused on the right issues and continues to be the pre-eminent insurance industry association we are today.”

Power is advancing from her current role as the IBC’s executive vice president of strategic initiatives and advocacy, where she steered the association’s national advocacy priorities and operational strategies, including planning and budget development.

Since joining IBC, she has held progressively senior roles, including national corporate spokesperson; executive director of strategy and member engagement; VP of Western; and chief strategy officer. Power has also served in government, notably as issues manager to the prime minister of Canada.

Following the announcement of Power’s appointment, board chair Heather Masterson praised her “wealth of experience in government relations, deep understanding of the issues affecting Canadians and the property and casualty insurance industry, and drive and focus to find solutions that will work for all stakeholders.”

What other issues do you think should be on the IBC’s radar? Leave them in the comments below.

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