Canadian Underwriter

Westland expands entertainment team with latest acquisition

March 6, 2023   by Jason Contant

Cheering fans at a music festival

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Westland Insurance has added to its entertainment team with the acquisition of Vancouver-based music insurance brokerage Shephard Ashmore Insurance Inc.

The music insurance brokerage for more than 40 years pioneered music insurance programs for independent artists in the late 1970s, Westland said in a press release Mar. 1 announcing the deal. Shephard Ashmore provides insurance and risk management solutions for major tours, festivals and events, and provides custom policies for the assets of artists and entertainers.

Among others, its offerings include entertainment risk management, commercial business insurance, touring artists liability, corporate and special events coverage, insurance programs for concert promoters, property and liability insurance for camera equipment owners, and private home and marine insurance.

Westland said Shephard Ashmore president Peter Parkin and his team will join Front Row Insurance Brokers as part of Westland’s corporate advisory and specialty practice.

“Front Row Insurance Brokers is one of the largest and most respected film and entertainment brokers in North America,” Donna Barclay, Westland’s EVP of commercial & specialty, told Canadian Underwriter. “Shephard Ashmore’s music specialty is a natural fit with this team. Shephard Ashmore complements our entertainment strategy by bringing depth to our music specialty practice.”

In September 2022, Westland entered the new industry vertical and the U.S. market for the first time with the acquisition of Front Row. They offer insurance and risk management solutions to the entertainment industry, including film production, music, theatre, live performance, and commercial photographers. Front Row has eight offices across North America: Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Los Angeles, Nashville, and New York.

Barclay said Westland “is deeply committed to our entertainment clients and will continue to invest in this sector. We’re excited to expand the Shephard Ashmore team’s music speciality across Front Row’s platform in Canada, the U.S., and internationally.”

At the time of the Front Row acquisition, Westland said Front Row would retain its name, logo, website and all of its 55 specially trained staff members.

Westland president and CEO Jamie Lyons told CU last year that Front Row has a “highly integrated culture across their offices – one that centres first and foremost on serving the unique needs of clients in the niche entertainment space. It is an entrepreneurial and creative culture, with staff that are passionate about the arts, highly engaged and driven. Whether in the U.S. or Canada, we believe the tenets of this culture align extremely well with those at Westland.”

Lyons said Front Row’s expertise in documentaries, commercials and animation helped offset the downturn in feature films and TV series especially during the height of COVID-19 restrictions.

“Coming out of the pandemic, film production has exceeded historic levels,” he said. “We’re seeing record highs for streaming and broadcasting and there are entertainment industry tailwinds that we believe Front Row is extremely well-positioned to benefit from, especially given its dominant market presence and brand equity in both Canada and the U.S.”

Westland has already acquired several P&C brokerages in 2023: Montreal-based Assurances R. Legault, Edmonton-based RiskTech Insurance Services, Quebec-based Niche Assurance Inc. and Saskatchewan-based Heritage Insurance.


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