AM Best Upgrades Credit Ratings of SSQ, Life Insurance Company Inc.

AM Best has upgraded the Financial Strength Rating to A (Excellent) from A- (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating to “a” from “a-” of SSQ, Life Insurance Company Inc. (SSQ) (Quebec, Canada). The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) has been revised to stable from positive.

The ratings reflect SSQ’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best categorizes as very strong, as well as its strong operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management.

SSQ is primarily involved in group insurance and holds significant market share within the Quebec province. As the sixth-largest life insurer in Canada by premium volume, SSQ also offers a variety of products including group and individual insurance, property/casualty insurance, and investment and retirement products. The company’s majority shareholder, Fonds de solidarité FTQ, is the largest developmental capital network within Quebec and assisted SSQ with the acquisition of AXA Life of Canada in 2012. SSQ continues to prioritize expanding outside of Quebec, with some success over the long term.

The rating upgrades reflect SSQ’s improved risk-adjusted capitalization, decreasing financial leverage, and growth of absolute capital over the previous several years. In addition to a favorable Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR), the company also reported a robust regulatory solvency ratio through 2018 under Autorite Des Marches Financiers’s new capital regime, CARLI (capital adequacy requirements for life insurers), which took effect in Quebec on Jan. 1, 2018.

SSQ also continues to produce strong and consistent operating performance year-over-year, often posting low double-digit returns on equity. Despite some volatility in earnings by line, SSQ’s core group insurance business continues to generate favorable earnings on growing business volume, which is expected to accelerate in 2020, as the company takes on group business from the nearly 40,000 employees and retirees of HydroQuebec.

AM Best believes that SSQ will continue to support its very strong balance sheet strength over time, backed by favorable earnings and manage its concentration in Quebec, as it attempts to compete against larger more established entities throughout Canada.

This press release relates to Credit Ratings that have been published on AM Best’s website. For all rating information relating to the release and pertinent disclosures, including details of the office responsible for issuing each of the individual ratings referenced in this release, please see AM Best’s Recent Rating Activity web page. For additional information regarding the use and limitations of Credit Rating opinions, please view Understanding Best’s Credit Ratings. For information on the proper media use of Best’s Credit Ratings and AM Best press releases, please view Guide for Media – Proper Use of Best’s Credit Ratings and AM Best Rating Action Press Releases.

AM Best is a global credit rating agency and information provider with an exclusive focus on the insurance industry. Visit www.ambest.com for more information.

Pacific Blue Cross forms national alliance with Blue Cross Life

BURNABY, BC, Sept. 16, 2019 /CNW/ – Blue Cross Life Insurance Company of Canada and Pacific Blue Cross will form an alliance, effective January 2, 2020, to bring together local service and insight, with national expertise and scale, to provide best products and services to British Columbians.

This nationally aligned Blue Cross alliance brings several new benefits that will help Pacific Blue Cross grow with advisors, plan sponsors and members. Enhancing its capabilities in underwriting, pricing, reserving, actuarial and medical underwriting allows Pacific Blue Cross to invest in more work and wellness solutions to improve health and wellbeing for British Columbians. Pacific Blue Cross will remain the primary contact for all sales, service and claims.

Pacific Blue Cross will continue to offer the products sold under its policies as a distributor for Blue Cross Life. Types of policies that are subject to the transaction are Group (Basic & Optional Life; Dependent Life; Accidental Death & Dismemberment; Optional Accidental Death & Dismemberment; Critical Illness; Long Term Disability; Short Term Disability) and Individual (Life; Accidental Death & Dismemberment; Critical Illness). Coverage for existing policyholders will continue within the current plan design.

“Pacific Blue Cross is excited to bring the benefits of a national carrier to our local expertise,” said John Crawford, President & CEO, Pacific Blue Cross. “This alliance with Blue Cross Life is a foundational building block towards improving health and wellbeing for British Columbians. We have created the ability to bring on new business with our trusted advisors while improving our value proposition to our clients and members.”

Canada’s Blue Cross plans have a long history of working together and leveraging individual strengths for mutual benefits. This milestone ensures Pacific Blue Cross is better-suited to meet the evolving benefit needs of its members, today and in the future.

“This alliance is a key milestone in our strategy to build a truly national scope; making our organization stronger and improving our ability to collaborate with other Blues Cross plans across Canada,” said Marie-Josée Martin, President & CEO, Blue Cross Life. “I look forward to working closely with Pacific Blue Cross as the newest shareholder and distributor of Blue Cross Life.”

As this alliance is subject to regulatory approval, submissions have been made to both OSFI and FICOM. The organizations are now working to advance implementation and integration activities.

About Pacific Blue Cross

Pacific Blue Cross is a Health Benefits Society and British Columbia’s number one health benefits provider. Based in Burnaby, BC, the not-for-profit organization provides health, dental, life, disability and travel coverage for 1 in 3 British Columbians through group benefits and individual plans. As part of its mission to improve health and wellbeing in BC, Pacific Blue Cross proactively supports charitable organizations across the province working to improve health outcomes.

About Blue Cross Life Insurance Company of Canada

Blue Cross Life is a federally-licensed company with operations located in several provinces.

The Company is owned by four Shareholders, operating as Alberta Blue Cross, Saskatchewan Blue Cross, Manitoba Blue Cross, and Medavie Blue Cross. It specializes in life insurance and disability income protection products to supplement the portfolio of health and dental products distributed by its Shareholder Blue Cross Plans.

SOURCE Pacific Blue Cross

Hub International Acquires Ontario-Based GMS Insurance Inc.

Hub International Limited (Hub), a leading global insurance brokerage, announced today that it has acquired GMS Insurance Inc. (GMS Insurance) in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

GMS Insurance’s Mississauga operations is an independent employee benefits consulting firm providing a complete solution for its clients’ retirement and benefit needs. Last year, Hub acquired the affiliated Kitchener, Ontario operationsof GMS Insurance. Now with both entities, Hub enhances its services to clients in southwestern Ontario and the greater Toronto area.

“We’re excited to unify GMS Insurance under Hub, which demonstrates our commitment to the market as we continue to strengthen our employee benefits capabilities in Canada,” said Gregory Belton, Executive Chairman of Hub International Ontario Limited (Hub Ontario). “Together we look forward to offering clients more choices and value.”

The GMS Insurance team will join Hub Ontario and report to Mr. Belton.

The move continues to reinforce Hub’s ongoing Canadian employee benefits growth and services strategy to assemble best-in-class capabilities and entrepreneurial talent across Canada to develop a complete employee benefits and pension solution.

“Joining Hub will give us the opportunity to fully leverage a robust business infrastructure and provide us with a solid foundation to grow,” said GMS Insurance management. “Hub has the experience, along with the resources, innovative solutions and services that will help us meet and exceed client expectations.”

About Hub’s M&A Activities
Hub International Limited is committed to growing organically and through acquisitions to expand its geographic footprint and strengthen industry and product expertise. For more information on the Hub M&A experience, visit WeAreHub.com.

About Hub International
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Hub International Limited is a leading full-service global insurance broker providing property and casualty, life and health, employee benefits, investment and risk management products and services. With more than 11,000 employees in offices located throughout North America, Hub’s vast network of specialists provides peace of mind on what matters most by protecting clients through unrelenting advocacy and tailored insurance solutions. For more information, please visit www.hubinternational.com.  

SOURCE Hub International Limited

http://www.hubinternational.com

SSQ Insurance hires François Joseph Poirier to accelerate its national growth

SSQ Insurance is pleased to announce the appointment of François Joseph Poirier as Vice-President of Business Development and Partner Experience, who will officially begin his duties on September 5, 2019. A 30-year veteran of the insurance industry, François Joseph has developed a results-oriented management approach and acquired an in-depth understanding of customers’ and partners’ needs, as well as the leadership skills required to forge strong bonds with everyone he works with.

“I am confident that François Joseph will be able to help us in reaching our ambitious national growth objectives and help position SSQ Insurance as a leader and business partner in all the markets we operate in. He will also be there to support the Sales Vice-Presidents of all business lines by providing them with the tools they need to maximize the partner experience and growth throughout Canada,” said Geneviève Fortier, Senior Vice-President, Sales and Distribution at SSQ Insurance. “He is a Canadian insurance industry expert and his knowledge and expertise will be precious assets in his new functions at SSQ Insurance,” she concluded.

François Joseph obtained a bachelor’s degree in actuarial sciences from Université Laval and is a fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries. Before joining SSQ Insurance, François Joseph was Vice-President of Business Development at Desjardins Financial Security. Prior to that, he was a senior leader for Mercer, Morceau Shepell and Willis Towers Watson, and an actuary for Retraite Québec. Having spent most his professional career in Toronto, where he still resides, he will be working out of SSQ Insurance’s Toronto office.

About SSQ Insurance
Founded in 1944, SSQ Insurance is a mutualist company that puts community at the heart of insurance. With assets under management of $12 billion, SSQ Insurance is one of the largest companies in the industry. Working for a community of over three million customers, SSQ Insurance employs 2,000 people. Leader in group insurance, the company also sets itself apart through its expertise in individual life and health insurance, general insurance and the investment sector. For more information, go to ssq.ca.

SOURCE SSQ Insurance

ssq.ca

Westland Insurance Group acquires First West Insurance Services

Press Release

SURREY, BRITISH COLUMBIA  – August 22, 2019 — Westland Insurance Group Ltd. is pleased to announce the acquisition of First West Insurance Services, a subsidiary of First West Credit Union, effective Sept. 30, 2019. BMO Capital Markets acted as financial advisor to Westland and KPMG Corporate Finance acted as financial advisor to First West.

“First West Insurance Services is a landmark acquisition for Westland,” says Jason Wubs, CEO of Westland Insurance Group Ltd. “They are a pillar in the communities they serve and have built a client-centric culture that is perfectly aligned with Westland’s core values.”

First West Insurance Services provides personal, auto and business insurance in British Columbia under three regional divisions: Envision Insurance in the Lower Mainland, Valley First Insurance in the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys and Island Savings Insurance on Vancouver Island and the Gulf islands.

“We were thrilled to find a partner like Westland Insurance,” says Launi Skinner, CEO of First West Credit Union. “We believe Westland is perfectly poised to realize the incredible potential of our insurance teams and provide the best possible service for our insurance customers in B.C.”

Westland Insurance will add 300 employees and 36 offices from First West Insurance Services in British Columbia, expanding its reach to 110 locations in 56 communities across the province. Post-acquisition, Westland will have nearly 1,500 employees and more than 130 offices in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

“We are excited to introduce the First West Insurance Services team to the Westland family and further strengthen our community presence in British Columbia, as well as add to our broader capabilities as an organization,” says Wubs.

About Westland Insurance Group

Westland Insurance Group is a client-focused and community-based Property & Casualty insurance brokerage established in 1980 in Ladner, B.C. The company is one of Canada’s largest independent P&C insurance distributors with over 90 offices throughout British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Westland is considered a leader in home, business, farm and auto insurance.

About First West Credit Union

First West Credit Union offers members the financial strength, comprehensive product selection and extended branch network of a large financial institution while maintaining local brand identities and a unique grassroots approach to service. Led by Launi Skinner, First West is British Columbia’s third largest credit union with nearly $10 billion in assets, nearly 250,000 members and approximately 1,750 employees. It operates 50 branches throughout the province under the Envision Financial, Valley First and Island Savings divisions.

www.westlandinsurance.ca 

 

Intact buying insurers Guarantee Co. and Frank Cowan for $1-billion

Intact Financial Corp. has signed a deal to buy The Guarantee Co. of North America and Frank Cowan Co. Ltd. from Princeton Holdings Ltd. for $1 billion in cash.

The Guarantee is a specialty lines insurer in Canada and the U.S., while Frank Cowan is a managing general agent focused on specialty insurance.

Intact is a provider of property and casualty insurance in Canada and a provider of specialty insurance in North America.

The company says the acquisition will bolster its position and add new products for the high net worth customer segment.

Princeton Holdings will continue to own Cowan Insurance Group, Cowan Asset Management and Fountain Street Finance.

To finance the transaction, Intact says it has access to its own capital resources and bank facilities and may evaluate capital markets alternatives.

“The acquisition of The Guarantee Co. of North America and Frank Cowan Co. is strongly aligned with our strategic and financial objectives,” Intact chief executive Charles Brindamour said in a statement.

“We are delivering on our objectives to grow in Canada and build a leading North American specialty platform. I’m enthusiastic about what we will accomplish by leveraging the combined expertise of our teams and our expanded offering.”

The deal, which is subject to regulator approvals, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

Specialty lines insurers typically underwrite more difficult and unusual risks or higher-risk accounts, such as professional liability, marine and aviation.

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