Canadian Underwriter

How Western Financial made its presence known in Atlantic Canada

March 1, 2021   by Greg Meckbach

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Western Financial Group is taking a non-controlling interest in Saint John, N.B.-based Huestis Insurance Group.

The exact terms of the deal, announced Feb. 23, were not disclosed, other than it will give the High River, Alta.-based Western Financial a “significant” non-controlling interest in Huestis.

“Huestis will continue providing great service to its communities under the same name,” the firms said in a release.

Western Financial Group now has about 200 sales and service centres and affiliated business interests throughout Canada. Until a few years ago, Western Financial only had brokerage offices in Western Canada.

“This interest agreement provides Western Financial Group with an opportunity to learn the Maritime insurance market from the experts at Huestis, the largest brokerage in the Maritimes,” Western Financial said in a release. “Huestis is a family-oriented organization that, like Western, has stayed close to its roots while expanding its operations through acquisition.”

Western Financial was founded in 1996 as Hi-Alta Capital Inc. by Scott Tannas, who was appointed in 2013 to represent Alberta in Canada’s Senate.

For its part, Huestis places personal lines home and auto insurance as well as a variety of commercial property, liability and specialty lines, plus surety bonds. It has more than 30 locations in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, plus two in Prince Edward Island. It is led by founder and president David Huestis.

“We are both organizations that prioritize the value we bring as a broker, community engagement and involvement, strategic growth, and strong reputation in our local communities. We are happy to have Western on board,” David Huestis said in a release.

In 2017, Desjardins Group sold Western to Trimont, a subsidiary of Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company.

In early 2020, Western Financial bought Orr & Associates Insurance Brokers Ltd., which has two offices north of Toronto, one in King City and the other in Schomberg.

Other Ontario brokerages that Western bought earlier include DMW Insurance and Axion Insurance Services Inc.

At one time, Western Financial owned a chartered bank (Bank West), Marlin Travel and a Winnipeg-based pet insurance carrier, known as Western Financial Insurance Company.

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