Specialty insurance: How CNA Canada adapted to the pandemic's challenges

Insurer's broad suite of specialty capabilities continue to meet the unique needs of clients across Canada

Specialty insurance: How CNA Canada adapted to the pandemic's challenges

Life & Health

By Bethan Moorcraft

This article was produced in partnership with CNA Canada. 

The COVID-19 pandemic kick-started a period of unprecedented changes and challenges for businesses in all sectors. Throughout this volatile time, CNA Canada has adapted its broad suite of specialty insurance capabilities – which includes management liability, professional services, technology, cyber and healthcare – to meet the unique needs of its commercial clients across the country. 

Emerging risks present both challenges and opportunities for insurers. For example, while the COVID-19 pandemic placed immense strain on Canada’s healthcare system, it also triggered a wave of new telemedicine services that required innovate risk control and insurance solutions. In a similar vein, as society became highly dependent upon technology during the pandemic – for the purposes of remote work, remote schooling, e-commerce and digital communication, amongst other functions – this has led to new challenges around cyber security and a surge in demand for cyber insurance solutions.

Prior to COVID-19, several significant social movements started to gain momentum all of which remain highly relevant today. While society has battled the public health crisis, people have also become more comfortable speaking out on social issues, which has led to positive changes around diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), as well as new risks for companies from an employment practices liability (EPL) standpoint. Related to the pandemic, some of the more concerning EPL exposures have revolved around discrimination in termination and lay-off procedures, as well as vaccination mandates.

“Insurance carriers had to be informed and learn to cope with exposures they might not have anticipated prior to the pandemic,” said Abena Apraku, Underwriting Specialist, Specialty Lines, CNA Canada. “At the same time, it’s leading to an increase in opportunities to further educate our insureds and transfer our knowledge to clients via risk control training and implementing better measures that can help to mitigate losses. We’re partnering more with our insureds to provide education before a loss occurs and identifying vulnerabilities that insureds can address.” 

CNA Canada has a broad specialty lines appetite, with expert underwriters, loss adjusters and risk control consultants based in five regional offices across the country. All underwriters have local authority to be able to make decisions and write policies quickly, but they’re also able to tap into the broad expertise and collaborate with colleagues in CNA’s US and international operations - all with the aim of providing a differentiated service to broker partners and clients in Canada. 

“Our book of business has grown substantially despite the pandemic and we’ve tailored our solutions to address the specific concerns that have been emerging,” Apraku told Insurance Business. “From an EPL perspective, for example, we’re paying particular attention to some of the issues that have exacerbated over the past two years around discrimination. We’ve tailored our solution to provide an H.R. Help Line that allows our insureds to call in for 30 minutes of free advice from an employment lawyer.”

The insurer has also strengthened its CNA CyberPrep solution, which is available to all CNA cyber policyholders and provides a network of cybersecurity professionals and services to actively identify, mitigate and respond to cyber risks. CNA CyberPrep provides a three-pronged approach to cybersecurity preparedness, with a strong focus on risk control and mitigation, which is reflective of the insurer’s wider approach to dealing with complex and specialty risks.

“Our risk control offerings are robust across the board,” said Apraku. “From a healthcare perspective, we have a dedicated risk control consultant who has a unique combination of skills, encompassing both technical healthcare expertise and knowledge, as well as insurance industry knowledge. Working closely with underwriters in assessing and addressing healthcare exposures enables us to provide advice, insight and recommendations on risk mitigation. Underwriting teams comprise of a diverse set of backgrounds, including finance, legal and science which enhance our level of understanding for insureds in various industries.”

CNA Canada will continue to strive towards its growth goals and face the challenges in the current climate, Apraku stressed. The insurer looks to become more targeted in its specialty lines underwriting and build its book of business by developing even stronger relationships with brokers and clients.

“We are focused on understanding our clients’ businesses and tailoring solutions for their unique situations,” she said. “It is important to have broker partners with a thorough understanding of their clients’ needs and exposures for underwriters to meet expectations and provide a thorough understanding of our capabilities.

“CNA is asking for additional information from brokers than in the past. For certain clients, we now need supplementary questionnaires, in addition to the standard applications. We are happy to provide ongoing education to our brokers to relate trends within the industry and the subsequent changes to our underwriting practices and communicate our value proposition to their clients.”    

Bethan Moorcraft of Insurance Business sat down with Abena Apraku, underwriting specialist, specialty lines, CNA Canada, to discuss how CNA Canada has adapted its broad suite of specialty insurance capabilities to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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