January 30, 2023 by Jason Contant
As Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company changes its leadership structure with the appointment of three industry professionals to more senior leadership roles, industry veteran Carol Jardine — currently the insurer’s president of Canadian P&C operations — is also set to retire on Feb. 28.
Last week, Wawanesa announced it had appointed Anna McCrindell, Graham Haigh and Jocelyne Prefontaine to senior vice president and chief operating officer roles for eastern Canada, western Canada, and life operations, respectively.
“This change is a result of our succession planning following Carol’s well-deserved retirement,” Brad Hartle, senior communications specialist, media relations, with Wawanesa confirmed to Canadian Underwriter. “We see opportunities to build on our success by tightening our regional focus, further aligning our P&C operations with our life operations, and providing more support for the unique local needs of our Canada-wide network of brokers.”
As senior vice president and chief operating officer — East for Wawanesa, McCrindell will lead the insurer’s Ontario, Quebec and Maritimes regions, while continuing to be responsible for commercial operations and products nationally. Haigh as SVP & COO — West will lead Wawanesa’s Alberta, B.C. and central Canada regions, while continuing to be responsible for business development and broker relations functions nationally. Prefontaine will lead Wawanesa’s Life company.
McCrindell, Haigh and Prefontaine all spoke with CU on Monday about the insurer’s strategy and areas of focus moving forward. (Jardine also spoke with CU and will be featured in another article).
For McCrindell, small business clients will be an area of focus. “We want to make it easier to do small business with us, and really leverage technology,” she said. “So, we’ll be rolling out a quote and bind process for our brokers for over 100 different small business classes. The other key focus for us this year [is] we are revamping and refreshing our farm product so that we can create more growth for us in eastern Canada… Ontario, essentially.”
McCrindell noted that 98% of businesses in Canada are under 100 employees, with more than half concentrated in Ontario and Quebec.
“Wawanesa has had strong market share in the West, and we’re well-established in the Maritimes, particularly New Brunswick, but not as well-known in Ontario and Quebec,” she said. “And we see Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes as markets that we have strong broker relationships, and a real opportunity to drive growth in those regions.”
Haigh added that connectivity and technology is an important area of focus. Wawanesa recently moved to the Guidewire cloud — one of the first P&C insurers to do so — and has created hundreds of application programming interfaces (APIs). As well, the insurer plans to launch a telematics product and revamp its website to focus on “trying to build online quoting so that we can deliver some leads to our broker partners for fulfillment.”
Prefontaine told CU the life business will work closely with the insurer’s east and west divisions to help incorporate Wawanesa Life into P&C brokers’ conversations.
“I always like to refer to Wawanesa Life as Wawanesa’s best-kept secret,” Prefontaine said. “In this structure, we really plan to change that and have P&C brokers… [talk] about our life products in the same breath.
“There’s a really strong linkage between commercial and what we can offer from an employee benefits perspective, from key person insurance, et cetera,” she said. “So, that ties into that strategic play of how we want to weave this into the rest of our operations.”
Wawanesa, Canada’s sixth largest P&C insurer, had more than $3.79 billion in net premiums written in 2021, according to Canadian Underwriter’s 2022 Stats Guide, using data supplied by MSA Research.
Feature image by iStock.com/phochi