Canadian Underwriter

How M&A is tracking so far this year in the Canadian insurance space

March 6, 2020   by Jason Contant

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After a bit of a lull in M&A announcements in the Canadian property and casualty space since the beginning of the year, it looks like the market for P&C brokerages and employee benefits solutions remains strong.

Deals seem to be announced around the beginning of the month. There were a handful of transactions at the beginning of 2020 (including Hub International’s acquisition of RHC and Archway Insurance’s purchase of Groom Insurance Limited), and a few around the beginning of February (such as Western Financial Group’s acquisition of Orr & Associates and Aon’s purchase of Canadian cybersecurity firm Cytelligence).

Already in the first week of March, several other announcements have been made. In the employee benefits space, one of the more major announcements of late was Hub’s purchase of Morneau Shepell’s benefits consulting practice. The practice focuses on providing tailored benefits solutions to clients – mainly large organizations, as well as small to medium – that include actuarial services, integrated data analytics across lines of benefit, organizational health consulting and financial analysis solutions.

Morneau Shepell reported that Hub purchased the practice for $70 million. Morneau Shepell has also exited the benefits consulting business, which represents approximately 3% of the company’s overall revenue and has margins slightly above the aggregate margins of the overall business.

“With Morneau Shepell’s benefits consulting practice, Hub will deliver highly differentiated services across all five lines of our business – property and casualty, employee benefits, retirement, risk services and personal lines – to clients large and small, in-country and cross-border,” said Tina Osen, president of Hub International Canada, in a press release Mar. 2.

Since launching the initiative to expand its Canadian employee benefit solution in 2018, Hub has acquired 28 Canadian brokerages and has grown its employee benefits practice to more than 20 offices, Hub said Mar. 2, when it announced the Morneau Shepell deal. Hub’s Canadian employee benefits practice also includes over 400 staff and in excess of $100 million in revenue and $1.5 billion in premium.

JP Girard, Morneau Shepell’s health & benefits consulting Canadian practice leader, has joined Hub as executive vice president, benefits consulting – national accounts and is named to Hub’s Canadian employee benefits leadership team. He will remain located in Halifax and report directly to Rob Keilty, CEO of Hub International Ontario.

Related: Brokerlink, Hub announce latest acquisitions

In the P&C brokerage space, Navacord Corp. brought brokerage Brookstone Insurance Group Inc. into the Navacord fold. Founded in 2015, the Oakville, Ont.-based brokerage offers a full suite of insurance products and risk management services to clients across Ontario. It caters to the needs of businesses and high net worth individuals.

Navacord president and CEO Shawn DeSantis said “Brookstone’s expertise is complimentary to Navacord’s and their Oakville location builds out our presence in the Ontario market.” Added Don Vince, president of Brookstone: “We look forward to continuing to service our clients while benefitting from the power and resources of a national brokerage.”

Most recently, on Wednesday, Intact’s BrokerLink said it acquired Concord, Ont.-based Impact Insurance, effective March 1. Impact Insurance has been providing commercial and personal insurance, including home, auto and group, to its community for over 25 years.

Impact Insurance employees will continue to serve customers as part of the BrokerLink team.

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