Canadian Underwriter

Aviva Canada CEO explains rationale for Global Corporate Specialty

October 7, 2019   by Jason Contant

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Aviva Canada sees its new Global Corporate Specialty (GCS) business unit growing disproportionately to the rest of its business, Aviva Canada CEO Jason Storah told Canadian Underwriter Friday.

“We’ve been in [the specialty business], but I think we’ve been in it quite quietly,” Storah said in an interview. “We wanted to make a bit of a splash [with GCS] because we do have an ambition to grow this business, I would say perhaps disproportionately to the growth in the rest of the business. I use that word [‘disproportionately’]  carefully because we do want to grow all of our lines. But if I think about why we are so interested in this, it really diversifies well against the rest of our business. We’ve built up the capability and the expertise over the last couple of years to be really confident about the areas that we’re playing in.”

Storah said Aviva is seeing very strong growth across all five areas of GCS – corporate risk, programs, special risk, surety, and equipment breakdown.

“So, when I say ‘disproportionate,’ I’m saying it because in our personal lines business, for instance, our growth is low- to mid-single digits,” he said. “In the GCS business, it’s constantly in the double digits. On a relative basis, this is growing more than other parts of our business. That growth is coming from a combination of rate, because the market is hardening, and new client acquisition, new policy acquisition across all five areas.”

GCS hubs in London, U.K., and in Toronto have the lion’s share of the specialty business.  In Canada, clients include Canadian large corporate and commercial companies doing business in Canada and the United States. On Aviva Canada’s side, the insurer has dedicated teams and expertise in each of the five areas of GCS business.

Aviva has already been a player in the specialty lines space, Storah said, particularly in London, where there is more multinational business. But looking over the past 12 to 18 months, he added, “it felt like there’s a time to say: ‘It’s time to come out of the shadows. We’re doing this, we’re doing it really well, we’ve got the expertise, we’re doing it in a focused way.’ This is the capability that Aviva has, and it’s a space where we have a long-term ambition.”

Storah sees specialty lines as an under-served segment in Canada. “I think a few players have traditionally been in this space, and we think we can beat them, quite frankly.”

How will Aviva differentiate itself from its competitors?

“In our view, what sets us apart is the combination of the specialized knowledge in very focused areas across those five businesses, the broader Aviva global financial strength, and the broader GCS capability that we have in London,” Storah said, noting that the London business is writing “some really good and interesting complex business in this space.”

In addition, Storah said, “we can match [Aviva’s] global capability with the local footprint [in Canada], from a loss control and claims management perspective.”

Aviva does not expect to be alone in the specialty space. Storah sees other carriers coming into the space as well. “I think that’s going to continue, whether that’s through acquisition or just carriers expanding appetite and capacity in Canada.”

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