La Capitale: strong headwinds in life insurance subside – CEO Jean St-Gelais

By Hubert Roy | July 04 2018 07:00AM

Jean St-Gelais

La Capitale Civil Service Mutual has made sweeping changes to its life and group insurance. These efforts are now bearing fruit, says CEO Jean St-Gelais.

In his message to mutual members published in the firm’s annual report, St-Gelais emphasizes that the mutual’s performance was more balanced in 2017. The P&C insurance sector generated profits of $43.9 million, while in the life and health insurance sector and financial services reaped profits of $31.1 million. “This rebalancing is very promising for the future of our mutual,” he says.

For 2018, he wants to position La Capitale as a leader in the digital age, fuelled by a culture of innovation. Examples of this commitment include the gradual implementation of auto-adjudication in group insurance, quick home insurance quotes and revamping of the Client Centre.

Individual life sales

La Capitale also announced a 17 per cent rise in individual life insurance sales from 2016 to 2017. Martin Delage, executive Vice-President, individual insurance and financial services, confirms that for 2018 efforts will focus on the profitability of the portfolio. The insurer announced in May that several of its life insurance products will exit the market as of July 9.

In group insurance, La Capitale’s sales reached $60.3 million, 52 per cent of which came from outside Québec, says Mario Albert, Executive Vice-President, group insurance. Business retention in the sector was an impressive 92.9per cent.

“In 2017 the group insurance sector embarked on an ambitious transformation. It is more than a stage in the development of our systems and practices. It is a transformation of our way of thinking and our ways of doing things. We intend to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. In 2018 we will move forward with the implementation of effective agile management in order to keep pace with the reality of an industry that is constantly and rapidly evolving,” Albert explains.

In P&C insurance, L’Unique General Insurance achieved record net earnings of $11.3 million in 2017, coupled with 14.5 per cent growth. Its gross written premiums totalled $235 million.

Christian Fournier, Senior Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, property and casualty insurance sector, attributes the positive trend to two factors. First, growth of the brokerage subsidiary in personal and commercial auto insurance. The second driver is growth in the commercial surety bonds sector.

Fournier says that the direct distribution subsidiary La Capitale General Insurance has commercial insurance targets. The insurer commissioned an external study that found high customer satisfaction in this segment, Fournier says.

Nonetheless there is clearly room for improvement. We are carrying out process reviews, computer system enhancements and product updates that are in progress or at the starting point,” he explains.