Canadian Underwriter

What the future holds for Unica, L’Unique, La Capitale and SSQ brands

November 11, 2021   by Greg Meckbach

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Beneva plans to replace its La Capitale and SSQ direct-to-consumer brands but it’s business as usual, for the time being, for the broker-distributed Unica and L’Unique brands.

“As of today both L’Unique and Unica are brands that exist in the market. There’s no change in their positioning or their offerings,” said Stéphane Morency, executive vice-president and lead, strategy, customer experience and marketing at Beneva.

Quebec City-based Beneva was formed in 2020 by the merger of Quebec City-based La Capitale and Sainte Foy-based SSQ. La Capitale had already been distributing P&C insurance through brokers in Ontario using the Unica brand and in Quebec using the L’Unique brand.

Right now, the priority for Beneva is to raise consumer awareness that the SSQ and La Capitale brands, for direct-to-consumer insurance, are being changed.

“Those two brands are actually changing to Beneva so that’s where we’re putting the focus right now,” Morency said Tuesday in an interview with Canadian Underwriter.

“There is not an urgent need to change anything” with the broker-distributed Unica and L’Unique brands.

Beneva announced Oct. 7 a new advertising campaign on its brand. The transition of operations to Beneva will take place in January 2022 for La Capitale and in 2023 for SSQ Insurance.

“Right now, Beneva is a company name but it doesn’t resonate in the market yet. So launching the new brand is a very important milestone for us that’s coming up,” said Christian Fournier, Beneva’s executive vice president and leader of P&C insurance, in a recent interview. Before the merger, Fournier had been senior executive vice president and chief operating officer of La Capitale General.

The current Beneva branding ad campaign includes sponsorships with the Montreal Alouettes Canadian Football League team as well as the Ottawa Senators National Hockey League team. There are also billboards and television ads, said Morency.

When they closed their merger July 1, 2020, La Capitale and SSQ formed Canada’s largest mutual insurer if you count life and P&C premiums. Wawanesa remains Canada’s largest P&C mutual.

The merger of La Capitale with SSQ was initially announced in January 2020.

But most of the general public was not aware of the merger throughout 2020, Morency suggested.

“October 2021 was really the moment when the general public was made aware in Quebec of that merger. We communicated with all the customers and partners so that everybody would be well aware of what’s coming.”

In 2019, La Capitale was Canada’s 13th largest P&C insurer in 2019 with net premiums written of $1.15 billion, according to the 2020 Canadian Underwriter Statistical Guide. SSQ Insurance had net premiums written of $293 million in 2019. In Quebec, La Capitale and SSQ ranked third and 10th respectively in 2019.

Beneva has two parts to it. “Bene” is associated with benevolence, kindness, and benefits, while “va” is a French word associated with movement, Beneva CEO Jean-François Chalifoux told Canadian Underwriter earlier.

“In 2020, we started working on our new brand because we did not want to have La Capitale or SSQ or a mix of it,” Mélissa Gilbert, La Capital/SSQ’s executive vice president and finance lead, said in 2020 during KPMG Canada’s 29th Annual Insurance Conference. The Beneva brand was announced a few weeks later. For most of 2020, the combined firm simply called itself La Capitale/SSQ.

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