Intact confirms commitment to Canada's brokers

Riding on the tailwinds of the successful RSA acquisition, this insurer is going from strength to strength

Intact confirms commitment to Canada's brokers

Insurance News

By Bethan Moorcraft

2021 was a “milestone year” for Intact Financial Corporation. The firm bolstered its position as Canada’s largest provider of property and casualty (P&C) insurance with the successful acquisition of RSA Insurance Group – its biggest M&A deal to date.

For the full-year 2021, Intact reported net operating income of $2,070 million, or $12.41 net operating income per share (NOIPS), up from $1,471 million or $9.92 NOIPS in 2020 – increases that the insurer attributed to “robust” underwriting and distribution income, as well as meaningful 12% accretion from RSA in the seven months since the transaction closed.

Intact’s operating direct premiums written (DPW) grew 45% from $12,039 in 2020 to $17,283 in 2021, mainly due to RSA, with healthy organic growth in commercial lines. The firm’s operating combined ratio for 2021 was 88.8%, a 0.3-point improvement from 89.1% in the prior year.

There are a lot of positive tailwinds carrying Intact into 2022, according to Debbie Coull-Cicchini (pictured), executive vice president, Canadian operations (excluding Quebec) at Intact Insurance.

“I’m very excited about 2022,” she told Insurance Business. “Top of mind is continuing to execute on the RSA integration so that we can deliver the upside of the acquisition to brokers and they can offer more to their customers. We’re already seeing great opportunities in our richer commercial offering and new specialty verticals. Brokers will see the benefits from that as 2022 progresses.”

Coull-Cicchini described Intact’s acquisition of RSA and its ongoing integration as “a great story for both brokers and Intact,” and she expressed her gratitude to Intact’s broker partners for their ongoing support and business during another year of unprecedented challenges in 2021.

She said: “The more we look under RSA’s hood, the more excited we are about what we can bring to brokers and their customers. But the acquisition came with uncertainty and change and conversion logistics - and brokers supported us through this, in the pandemic environment. We appreciate this support very much.”

Intact conducts a broker survey twice a year in which the insurer measures broker satisfaction with its products, service levels and systems – all of which came back positive, despite the pressures of 2021. This also gives brokers a chance to identify pain points, and areas where Intact can improve.

“This broker feedback is the backbone of our commitment to brokers for 2022,” Coull-Cicchini commented. “Brokers told us, very clearly, that they need more comprehensive education programs that support their success, and we’re already executing on that. They want more support on our online systems and tools, and we’re investing in that as well.

“Brokers also told us they want a better understanding of our risk appetite and underwriting decisions. We’ve worked closely with brokers over the past 18 months to alleviate risk appetite concerns stemming from the RSA acquisition, and we continue to have those conversations. Our risk appetite will always evolve – that is the nature of the insurance business. We will continue to make sure brokers understand our concerns about specific risks so that we can work together to identify potential solutions.”

According to Coull-Cicchini, the most important piece of feedback that brokers provided in the most recent survey was that they value and want strong relationships with local underwriters, business development managers, and Intact’s management teams.

This ties into one of Intact’s core strategies for 2022. Coull-Cicchini explained: “Above all, we’re going to continue to capitalize on our regional focus and presence. We have people on the ground in local offices across the country, empowered to make underwriting decisions. We’re where the brokers are and where their customers are. That’s long been our strength and, in 2022, we’re going to continue to build on that strength.”

Another top priority for Intact in 2022 is for the firm to continue to execute on its digital strategy, applying the lessons learned from the real-life tests in 2020 and 2021 to improve tools and systems. The end goal, according to Coull-Cicchini, is to deliver a digital strategy that makes it easier for brokers to do business with Intact, and gives them the support they need to attract and retain customers.

“Our challenge - our joint challenge, for Intact and for brokers - is to make our digital transformation centred on the customer journey,” she added, “because it needs to be all about the customer experience, regardless of whether the digital tool we’re talking about is an insurance app or a broker management system. If the tool leads to a satisfied, connected customer, the tool is doing its job. If the tool does not contribute to a positive customer journey, it needs work.

“Given the structure of the insurance industry, for the customer to have a truly successful digital journey, the broker must be a key part of it. Our most recent Intact Insurance app redesign really takes that to heart, putting the broker at the centre of the customer’s digital experience.

“We all know insurance is a people business, and, in 2022, our commitment to brokers is to go back to basics, to a focus on relationships, people, connection. If we get that piece right, we’re all poised for success.”

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