Canadian Underwriter

Intact sets 50% growth target for BrokerLink

November 10, 2020   by Greg Meckbach

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Intact Financial Corp. is aiming to grow its brokerage subsidiary to a $3-billion-a-year operation, CEO Charles Brindamour told investment banking analysts recently.

“BrokerLink recently surpassed $2 billion in premiums as it continues to grow organically and through acquisitions,” Brindamour said Nov. 4 during a conference call. “The growth story isn’t done, as we have set a new premium target of $3 billion for BrokerLink.”

Brindamour revealed the 50% growth target for BrokerLink while discussing Intact’s financial results for the three months ending Sept. 30. Intact announced this past August that BrokerLink closed nine acquisitions to date in Canada in 2020. BrokerLink has more than 140 brokerage branches.

The topic of an insurer owning a brokerage chain came up this past August during a virtual fireside chat with UBS analyst Brian Meredith. “Your competitors can’t be happy if all of a sudden they see Intact buying one of the brokers they are using,” Meredith said Aug. 11 during a one-on-one chat with Brindamour at the UBS Financial Services Virtual Conference.

“Many of our competitors have built great businesses with BrokerLink, which is run separately from the insurance operation but run the Intact way,” replied Brindamour.

“One of our commitments is that if you put your product on our competitive platform [i.e. sell an insurance product through BrokerLink], there will not be a competitive disadvantage for you to be on our platform any more than [there would be by selling your product through] any other brokerage in the Canadian marketplace,” Brindamour said at the time. “By that I am not saying everyone will have the same results. The competitors [to Intact Insurance] who are not so dogmatic and accepted our offer to be on our platform, you know what? We are now one of their biggest distributors and it’s been good for them.”

Intact also wants to expand in the P&C brokerage sector in the United States. One recent Intact acquisition is International Bond & Marine Brokerage Ltd. of Hoboken, N.J.

Intact’s strategy is to build a distribution footprint in the United States “to help scale up certain operations, in this case surety,” Brindmour said Nov. 4 during the Q3 earnings call, referring specifically to International Bond and Marine. In 2017, Intact expanded into the U.S. specialty market by acquiring OneBeacon. In 2019, Intact acquired Canadian carrier The Guarantee Company of North America. The insurer is now using the Intact brand for its specialty coverages.

Intact could also expand its specialty coverages to Europe.

The day after Intact’s Q3 earnings call, Intact and RSA plc made public a proposal which would have Intact taking over RSA’s operations in Canada and some outside of Canada, including  Britain, Ireland, and the Middle East. The yet-to-be approved proposal would have RSA bought by a consortium comprised of Intact and Denmark-based Tryg A/S.

“Our thesis at Intact is here in Canada, 15 to 20 points of market share will change hands in the coming years. We think this is a good market in the coming months and coming years for consolidation,” Brindamour said Nov. 4 during the Q3 earnings call, which was the day before the RSA-Tryg proposal was made public.

If the RSA proposal goes through, Intact and Tryg would share ownership of RSA’s Danish operations while Tryg would take over RSA’s operations in Sweden and Norway.

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