Canadian Underwriter

The latest acquisitions in the Canadian brokerage space

December 17, 2019   by Jason Contant

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As we near the end of 2019, the trend in brokerage acquisitions shows no sign of slowing down.

In the past week-and-a-half, one Ontario brokerage purchased another Ontario brokerage, a different brokerage bought a managing general agency, a large brokerage expanded its group employee benefits book through a merger, and another large brokerage bought an employee benefits firm.

Kicking it off was personal and commercial lines brokerage Nicol Insurance Inc., which announced Dec. 6 it had purchased Orangeville, Ont.-based Landry Mellow Insurance, another personal and commercial lines brokerage. Nicol Insurance has offices in the Ontario communities of Owen Sound, Wiarton, Port Elgin, Kincardine and Flesherton.

“While steps to align the internal systems and operations will begin immediately, it will not affect current clients of Landry Mellow, as it will continue to operate under the Landry Mellow name until it can be seamlessly merged into the Nicol Insurance brand,” Nicol Insurance said in a press release. “At this time, there are no plans to make any staffing changes as the merging of the two companies will result in very little overlap of responsibilities.”

A few days after that acquisition, Brown & Brown, Inc. said it had entered into an agreement to acquire the assets of Langley, B.C.-based Special Risk Insurance Managers (Special Risk), a managing general agency with offices in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia.

J. Scott Penny, chief acquisitions officer of Brown & Brown, and Mark Woodall and Tom Willie, the principals of Special Risk, reported Brown & Brown Programs (CA), Inc. had entered into the agreement. The transaction is expected to close Jan. 1, 2020, subject to certain closing conditions.

Special Risk will operate as a part of Brown & Brown National Programs, which, under the leadership of Chris Walker, consists of over 60 specialty niche programs and collectively represents over $3 billion in written premium. The MGA will become a distinct operating division in the National Programs Division alongside specialist operations such as Arrowhead General Insurance Agency and Bellingham Underwriters, Daytona Beach, Fla.-based Brown & Brown said in a release Dec. 9.

Woodall will continue to lead the Special Risk team and will be part of the leadership team of the National Programs Division, reporting to Walker. Willie will continue to lead the underwriting team of Special Risk.

“The acquisition of Special Risk is a strategic step forward for Brown & Brown in establishing a presence in the Canadian insurance brokerage market,” Brown & Brown said in the release.

On Monday, Navacord Corp. announced the addition of Ontario-based SmartChoice Benefits Inc., effective Dec. 12. Focused on developing group benefits products for more than 25 years, SmartChoice tailors benefit plan options to niche business segments that have been traditionally underserved by the group insurance market across Canada, including contracted employees, small businesses and franchises.

The move provides an opportunity for Navacord to enter the third-party administration space and creates a strong overlap to commercial group and transportation segments for significant cross-selling between the businesses, Navacord said in a release.

Most recently, on Tuesday, global insurance brokerage, risk management and consulting services firm Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. announced its acquisition of Halifax, N.S.-based Sinclair Billard and Weld Limited, and CJM Solutions + Inc., doing business as SBW Employee Benefits. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

SBW Employee Benefits designs, administers, markets and manages comprehensive group insurance programs and defined contribution group retirement programs for businesses and associations across Atlantic Canada. It also provides consulting advice on employee assistance plans and wellness programs.

Rob Weld, Jamie Spence, Lorie Collins and their associates will continue to operate from their Halifax office under the direction of Melanie Jeannotte, president of Gallagher’s Canadian employee benefits consulting and brokerage operations.

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