Canadian Underwriter

Why this insurer is spending $20 million on bricks-and-mortar stores

April 4, 2019   by Greg Meckbach

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When CAA Insurance clients want to visit an agent in person, company officials want those clients to feel as if they are in a home rather than an office.

This is one reason CAA Club Group has spent $8 million over the past five years on upgrading stores.

“Insurance is an important part of our retail strategy,” Donald Kaye, assistant vice president of customer retail experience for CAA Club Group, said in an interview.

The CAA store in Vaughan, Ont.

The CAA Club Group of Companies includes CAA Insurance Company as well as two clubs affiliated with the Canadian Automobile Association.

It has 35 stores in Ontario and plans to open a 36th in Toronto at Spadina Avenue and Adelaide Street. Its new London, Ont. store had its grand opening March 27.

New and renovated stores in Ontario now have warm fireplaces, a video wall, free WiFi and digital displays. Its $20-million store renewal project is expected for completion in 2021. That $20 million includes the $8 spent so far, and the aim is to give clients a home environment that is inviting, said Kaye.

“We all want rich and enjoyable experiences when we take the time to visit stores and this is a channel that is really really important to us,” Kaye said. In addition to home and auto insurance, the stores are used for other CAA products and services –  merchandise and booking travel, for instance.

“Retailers have struggled for many years around bricks-and-mortar traffic,” Kaye said. “When we embarked on this renovation investment, we really focused on a concept that we called the home concept. In insurance, you have that living room-type environment with book cases and a fireplace in behind.”

The new store in London is on Beaverbrook Ave., off the west side of Wonderland Road north of Oxford Street. Its old store in London was in Cherryhill Mall, formerly known as West Town Plaza Mall.

“There is a significant proportion of our membership that do prefer to transact face-to-face,” Kaye said. “They can come into an environment that is both inviting and is also based on what the customers’ needs are – whether it’s a member who has been with us 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 years, or it’s a new family that maybe has moved to the community and maybe they are not a (CAA) member with us and they are really making sure they are going to get the right insurance coverage that they need.”

CAA sells insurance both to CAA members and non-members. It sells both direct and through brokers.




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1 Comment » for Why this insurer is spending $20 million on bricks-and-mortar stores
  1. Simply put, a really proactive and intelligent, client facing initiative; one that helps return a personal touch to the too often, modern-day, impersonal interactions of buying insurance. Well done CAA, well done!!


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