Canadian Underwriter

Meet the new Canadian Association of Mutual Insurance Companies president

October 22, 2020   by Greg Meckbach

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With the COVID-19 pandemic drastically reducing the frequency of in-person meetings, the new president of the Canadian Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (CAMIC) plans to meet online with each member to hear their concerns.

“I am mapping out a plan to set up [virtual] meetings, whatever works for the member, to spend 20 or 30 minutes connecting personally with each and every [CAMIC member] to learn what their issues are, what their concerns are and what they think we should be doing as a national association,” said Sangita Kamblé, CAMIC’s new president and CEO, in an interview Wednesday.

Kamblé started her job Sept. 14 when she succeeded Normand Lafreniere, who is retired. Kamblé was previously executive director of the Canadian Occupational Therapy Foundation.

CAMIC’s board plans to meet at the end of November. It plans to discuss key goals for lobbying, said Kamblé.

“With the COVID-19 situation, lobbying is, for the most part, not at the forefront of what we are doing, just because of how things are working with the government.”

But several issues, including demutualization and fintech, are still “on the table.”

CAMIC’s concern with fintech is the possibility of a system that would allow banks to share data with unregulated fintechs, which might then in turn share that data with the banks’ subsidiary insurance companies.

Open banking is a system in which consumers could consent to sharing their banking transaction data with other financial services providers, such as fintechs.

Currently, Canadian law prohibits banks from selling P&C insurance at the point of granting credit.

“If a person goes into a bank because they need a loan or mortgage for example, and the bank says ‘Oh, we can sell you insurance,’ then they are taking away from the mutual industry,” Kamblé said in an interview. “Once the bank has captured that customer for mortgages or loans, if they are also providing insurance services, a customer not knowing the difference might think they can go to the bank and the bank can be the be-all and end-all for all of his or her financial needs, without understanding how a mutual insurance company works.”

The topic of mutuals came up Thursday during the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario’s annual convention.

“I am biased. I think the mutual structure is the best opportunity for brokers, especially one that says we are going to continue with our structure for a long time,” said Carol Jardine, president of Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company’s Canadian property and casualty operations, during the CEO panel Thursday. This is because mutuals do not have passive investors expecting a return on their investment.

Jardine was asked by IBAO CEO Colin Simpson, who moderated the panel, what role mutual insurers have in bringing more stability to the Canadian industry.

As a mutual company, Wawanesa is focused on breaking even, said Jardine.

Mutuals have a different value system than stock companies, Kamblé told Canadian Underwriter Wednesday in an interview that was separate from the IBAO convention.

“With stock companies, we buy stock because we are looking to make money,” said Kamblé. “For the mutuals, their customers are their members. With the mutuals, we are working together with the members. Basically, the philosophy is the work that we do supports the communities, and that is how we differ from investment-owned insurers, because our activities have to always be in line with who we are as a company.”

Feature image via Zhang

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