Quebec insurer sets sight on Ontario market

By Alain Thériault | April 27 2008 03:06PM

Ontario advisors may soon have another insurer to choose from: LS Mutual Insurance Company. Upon receiving governmental approval, this is the name that Quebec insurer, La Survivance, plans to use in Ontario.

The translation of the name from La Survivance to LS Mutual Insurance Company must first be approved by Quebec’s Ministry of Finance.

After having nearly doubled its sales in four years, La Survivance is weighing new expansion strategies to retain its momentum. In 2008, Ontario will figure prominently in its search for new growth markets.

La Survivance CEO Richard Gagnon views his premium volume growth with a mix of enthusiasm and concern. "In our particular niche, the market gets saturated quickly," he points out.

Expanding distribution networks is one solution, he says. La Survivance acquired a life insurance permit in Ontario in 2007 and recently began to test the market.

A few weeks ago, the Quebec-based mutual insurer signed an agreement with Ontario-based managing general agency Financial Horizons Group. "We have already begun to receive our first policies from Ontario," he confirms.

For now, La Survivance sees this first incursion in Ontario as an opportunity to test the receptiveness of the market to the type of products it offers. It already observed that the individual disability insurance niche is underdeveloped. "There are not many individual disability suppliers there. The other distributors we talked to seem interested." If the test period shows promise, La Survivance will step up its activities in Ontario.

Is this francophone company ready for a foray into English Canada? "We have already been preparing to enter the English markets for four to five years by recruiting a bilingual staff," Mr. Gagnon explains. "We also offer our employees English courses."

La Survivance is currently able to conduct all its activities in both official languages, from its technological platform to marketing, products and claims. It honed these skills over many years of doing business in New Brunswick.

At press time in April, La Survivance was preparing the English version of its website. It was awaiting approval of its English name before going forward.