Future looking bright for mutual insurers

Jan. 20, 2020 — THE MUTUAL insurance sector is in a strong position for the future thanks to young people’s interest in a social economy, the president of the Canadian Association of Mutual Insurance Companies says.

“They like seeing things run by co-operatives and mutuals and so we see more demand for our services in the future than we even see now,” Normand Lafrenière told Thompson’s last week.

He also believes that interest in a social and sharing economy will bode well for enticing young people to work for mutual insurers and to sit on their boards, which will be good for the sector in the long term.

CAMIC represents member-owned insurance companies across Canada, focusing on advocacy, education and promotion of the value of mutuality.

In 2020, CAMIC expects to aim its lobbying efforts at three main issues.

First is the issue of financial technology.

Mr. Lafrenière said CAMIC wants to ensure that the technology-based banking companies are governed by the same rules as traditional banks so they don’t have an unfair advantage when selling insurance.

“We are in favour of open banking, but we want to see the fintechs having the same restrictions with respect to selling insurance as the banks,” he said.

Second is the issue of flooding. CAMIC  wants the federal government to mitigate the effects of floods by spending money on infrastructure and to help the general public understand the importance of mitigation.

Third is pushing for changes to demutualization rules to create less of an advantage to demutualize companies. It wants the majority of all policyholders to have to vote in favour of demutualization in order for it to occur. And it also wants the surplus divided not among current policyholders  but to charities or other mutual insurance companies so that the incentive of demutualization is lessened.

Mr. Lafrenière said he thinks the hard market will continue in 2020, but he said there is room for optimism because he’s seen it already relaxing a bit.

“The results of our members generally speaking are improving. The level of profit isn’t where it should be, but nevertheless the results are better generally speaking than they were a year ago,” he said.

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