Canadian Underwriter

Brokerage M&A off to a strong start in 2021

January 7, 2021   by Jason Contant

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Large Canadian brokerage Westland Insurance Group Ltd. now has a coast-to-coast presence with its acquisition of Storm Insurance Group, which has offices in Nova Scotia and Quebec.

The deal, which closed Wednesday, is one of three acquisitions closed or announced in the new year. Gallagher and Navacord brokerage Waypoint Insurance also announced deals this week.

British Columbia-based Westland reported last month it had entered into an agreement to acquire Storm Insurance Group. Confirming Thursday that the deal had closed, Westland said it supports its expansion strategy to serve more communities nationally. It is the brokerage’s first acquisition with offices in Nova Scotia and Quebec. Westland already has locations in Alberta and Ontario, two other provinces (in addition to Nova Scotia and Quebec) where Storm also has offices.

With this latest acquisition, Westland will be adding new branches across Canada’s western, central, Quebec and Atlantic regions, more than 120 employees in six provinces, and over 100,000 clients across Canada.

Storm Insurance Group operates under several brands, including retail brokerages A.P. Reid, Sheppard and Axxium; group brokerage MyGroup; MGA Agile Underwriting Solutions; and digital insurance platform The brokerage group specializes in partnering with carriers, brokerages, associations, and other organizations to provide custom insurance solutions and programs.

Westland president and chief operating officer Jamie Lyons said : “Similar to Westland, the Storm Insurance Group started in 1980 as a small, family-owned business. It is now a national multi-channel insurance distributor, servicing Canadians in all provinces and territories.

“Under its founder Aileen Reid, and more recently under the visionary leadership of CEO Jamie Reid and his executive team, Storm has set itself apart in the industry by investing in cutting-edge, customer-centric solutions. We’d like to welcome the whole Storm team to the Westland family.”

Storm Insurance Group president and CEO Jamie Reid added that, “as part of Westland, we will benefit by expanding our capacity, resources, and market position. Joining Westland will also allow us to continue investing in innovative platforms and attracting top industry talent.”

Post-acquisition, Westland will have over 150 locations and 1,700 employees in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia.

Another large brokerage, U.S.-based Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., announced its latest acquisition Thursday. Gallagher said it had acquired Fredericton, N.B.-based Cain Insurance Services Ltd., a retail property and casualty brokerage offering commercial and personal insurance to clients in eastern Canada.

Gallagher’s Canadian retail property and casualty brokerage operations span seven provinces and 32 offices.

Cain Insurance Services was formed in 1986 by Dan and Eileen Cain, followed by a partnership between Dan and his brother Luke in 1994, Gallagher said in a press release Thursday. The brokerage has expertise in the public sector, manufacturing, agriculture, realty, and construction.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Gallagher said Dan, Luke, and their associates will continue to operate from their current location under the direction of Michael Thornhill, area president of Gallagher’s Atlantic Canada retail property and casualty brokerage operations.

“Cain will enhance Gallagher’s significant presence of six offices across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick,” Gallagher said.

On the other side of the country, a Navacord brokerage specializing in P&C insurance products “unique to life on the west coast” said it had added Lynn Valley Insurance to its ranks.

Waypoint Insurance announced the acquisition Wednesday, effective Jan. 4. Founded by Alex Maier in 1984, Lynn Valley Insurance focuses on providing home and auto insurance to North Vancouver residents, along with a commercial book of business.

“Lynn Valley is well-known and respected in the North Shore thanks to the Maier’s active involvement and investment in the tight-knit community,” Navacord said in a release. “With a long history that dates back more than 140 years, Waypoint is a large brokerage that prides itself on maintaining a small community feel.

“In the coming months, Lynn Valley will transition to operate under the Waypoint Insurance brand, but colleagues, clients, industry associations, and partners alike can expect a continued commitment to service excellence and expertise with the added resources and strength of a national firm.”

Waypoint has 18 locations, arranging more than 100,000 auto, home and commercial insurance policies annually for clients in British Columbia.

“The addition of Lynn Valley furthers Waypoint’s strategy of continuing to build in North Vancouver and the Greater Vancouver area through like-minded brokers,” Navacord said. “It also enhances Navacord’s position in the province, supporting their vision of building the great Canadian brokerage and is expected to be one of many announcements through 2021.”


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