The fresh approach to Rural Insurance - Rural Affinity

Canadian Exchange

Sarah Hando, Rural Affinity Operations Manager, updates us on her exchange to Canada earlier this year:

Earlier this year, Great Lakes Australia very kindly organised a month-long placement for me at Temple Insurance, Munich Re’s local Canadian insurer. Based in Toronto, Temple Insurance writes agency business and large single risks, both property and casualty.

My time at Temple was spent primarily with Temple’s MGA Property Underwriter, reviewing referrals from agencies and helping to analyse the performance of their portfolios. I had the chance to look at a whole range of risks – everything from hydroelectric power stations in BC to fish smoking plants in Quebec to grain elevators in Saskatchewan. I then spent a few days with one of Temple’s single risk property underwriters, who focus on risks with a primary situation insured value over $100 million – a slightly different scale to what we usually we see here at Rural Affinity! These risks can be large scale construction or mining projects with locations all across the world, and the broker slips for these are the size of a small novel. I learnt a lot sitting with the single risk underwriters, not least of which was the discovery that youtubing tunnel boring equipment is surprisingly interesting. 

I also had a chance to meet (and even better – lunch!) with a number of other departments, including IT, operations, accounting and the engineers Temple have on staff . The stereotype of Canadians being extremely friendly certainly held up eh; everyone was very generous with their time and made me feel very welcome.

One of the biggest points of difference I noticed between the Australian and Canadian insurance markets was the liability limits offered. On a private car insurance policy here for example, it’s normal to have a limit of $20 million. In Canada, the standard is $1-2 million. Similarly, on our commercial farm pack policy we provide up to $20 million in farm liability on top of the standard $20 million in domestic liability. On the Canadian farm pack policies I looked at, a combined limit of only $5 million was offered. This discrepancy seems  in part due to a perception that Canada is much more litigious, but also due to a different legal system – Canada has a joint and several liability system in contrast to Australia’s proportionate liability system, and this has no doubt plays a role in the different levels of liability cover offered.

Despite my failed quest to find a Mountie I had a fantastic time in Toronto. It was the middle of summer with mid 20 days all month and I managed to score a very cool AirBNB apartment (let’s just ignore the ambiguous insurance implications of that…) only 20 minutes walk from the Munich Re building. And despite the prominence of Starbucks and Tim Hortons, I even managed to find an Aussie-owned café serving long blacks and flat whites.