Getting an MGA Education
Companies to Watch - April 2012
Company: APRIL Canada
President: Bernard Laporte
Year Founded: 2007
# of Employees: 140 in Canada; 3,700 worldwide
Public or Private: Public
Annual Premiums: $100 million+ (Canada)
APRIL Canada’s parent company in France entered the Canadian market in 2007 by purchasing two managing general agencies (MGAs) in Quebec. The parent company saw further opportunity for growth and the following year decided to purchase another MGA, Canada WorldWide Underwriting Agencies, which had offices in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.
In June 2011, the company changed its name from Canada WorldWide to APRIL Canada Inc., bringing its five Canadian offices under the same umbrella as its worldwide brand.
“It brought every single one of our companies across Canada under one brand, making us one entity and part of one larger team sharing the same core values: conviviality, imagination and simplicity,” explains Ken Adams, managing director for the Ontario region.
“Our model is: A global reach, with a local presence.”
Reasons to Watch
APRIL Canada’s Toronto location, which specializes in niche markets such as hard to place risks for P&C, professional liability, high-value homes, marine and builders’ risks, is launching a series of Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario (RIBO)-accredited courses in June 2012. The MGA’s Quebec headquarters has been enjoying over two years of success by offering similar courses, so the Toronto office decided to capitalize on the idea.
There are four different courses for Ontario brokers: special or hard to place risks; marine insurance; personal lines; and professional liability. Courses will range in length from 2.5 to 4 hours and be held in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and surrounding areas in Ontario. One course will be offered every three months, with a future goal to offer one course every month. Brokers will be presented with a certificate upon completion plus their RIBO credits.
APRIL Canada also offers lunch-and-learns to educate producers on various risks, industry issues and what’s new at APRIL Canada. Lunch-and-learns can be held for a few brokers in an informal setting or for larger groups with more formal presentations.
The successful rebranding of APRIL Canada was accomplished through vigorous marketing, explains Michael Kewley, vice president of the Ontario region. The company promoted its brand in trade magazines, brochures, at tradeshows, conferences and broker offices, as well as online.
“Because we’re such a large global company, it gives us instant credibility,” says Kewley. “People are very impressed with the size and scale of the company, our product offerings and the support that we have to offer our brokers. Our model is: A global reach, with a local presence.”
Adams adds the Toronto office has felt the benefits of rebranding, and in the first quarter of 2012, production levels have increased tremendously.
Though there have been many advantages of rebranding for APRIL Canada, including growth and simplicity, it has been a double-edged sword.
“Some people think APRIL is a completely new company,” says Adams. “To address this we are out in the marketplace promoting our brand, sending newsletters to let people know we’re the same faces they’ve been dealing with for years—we’re just under a new name but have more leverage than we’ve ever had before in getting brokers what they need.”
APRIL Canada is launching a new website http://www.april.ca. Currently, there is a holding page in place for this web address, but the new site will include educational links to the various areas the company does business in, industry news, upcoming RIBO courses, and information on lunch-and-learns. The site is expected to launch soon.
Also, APRIL attended the Toronto Boat Show in January 2012, where they met brokers, boat dealers and the marina community. The office experienced such a positive response from the show that it decided to create a marina program in conjunction with Ontario marinas, and their designated brokers. This new program is underway and will be released very soon, as boat season is already upon us, says Kewley.
4405 Lapiniere Boulevard, Brossard, Quebec J4Z 3T5
Copyright 2012 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the April 2012 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.