Fiscal 2023 was the first year that life and health insurers in Canada were obliged to report their results under the new IFRS 17 accounting standards.

The transition to the new international financial reporting standards did not prevent Assumption Life from increasing its earnings attributable to policyholders by 16.4 per cent in 2023. The insurer posted earnings of $8.5 million for the year, compared with $7.3 million in 2022, based on the IFRS 17 adjustment.

Assumption Life saw individual insurance sales growth of 42 per cent in 2023, compared with 2022. The insurer has modernized its web-based insurance sales platform, Lia, adding new functionalities.

However, Lia is not the only explanation for the insurer’s growth. "It's a combination of several factors," said Sébastien Dupuis, president and CEO of Assumption Life. "It starts with listening to our people, wanting to innovate and make the process easier for the consumer and the advisor. Our three key words for growth are distribution, experience and efficiency."

Dupuis gives much of the credit to in-house teams. He cites the representatives recruited in recent years, whose role is "to exchange with advisors". "We've targeted the right people, and they're making a difference," added Dupuis.

He believes that other internal resources have been able to adjust products and business processes in line with market dynamics. "Quebec and Ontario have experienced strong growth," he said, adding that Assumption Life sales have grown strongly in the managing general agency network. "We have new producers, and more producers who are producing more," he says. 

Small policy niche  

We don't chase the big policies. We want to be there for the average Canadian - Sébastien Dupuis

To grow Assumption’s individual life insurance business, Dupuis is banking on ensuring that it’s easy to do business with the insurer for both advisors and consumers. He is also counting on the insurer’s presence in the "small policy" niche.

"Our Acadian company was created to help people. We don't chase big policies. We want to be there for the average Canadian. Whether it's a policy to cover funeral expenses, or a mortgage," he gives as an example.

He was keen to point out that Assumption Life "was one of the first insurers, if not the first" to offer insurance that advisors can underwrite online. Assumption Life has offered an electronic platform since 2003. It changed the platform’s format in 2013 and named it Lia, for Life Insurance Anywhere

Investment record  

Assumption Life experienced even higher growth in investments and retirement. The insurer describes its cumulative sales of $197 million in 2023 as a record. This represents 74 per cent growth over 2022. Dupuis reveals that three-quarters of investment sales come from new deposits.

"The Vesta investment platform has really facilitated exchanges and transactions with our advisors," explains Dupuis. Created in 2020, the Vesta platform supported the UV Insurance network, when the Drummondville, Quebec-based mutual left the segregated fund market and entered into an agreement to distribute Assumption Life's segregated funds. Dupuis said that several other individual retirement savings distribution partnerships were subsequently concluded.

Hyper-competitive environment  

In group insurance, Dupuis says he achieved his objectives for 2023, despite what he describes as a hyper-competitive market. He says he observes competitors bidding at the lowest price when a group issues a call for tenders. "We don't want to buy business. We want to offer a real experience and work with companies on their challenges. If the group has a bad experience, we'll work with them to improve it," he underlined.

Dupuis affirms that Assumption Life has improved the retention rate of its groups. "Retention is better than expected, but not significantly so," Dupuis acknowledged.

Rating maintained  

Meanwhile, Assumption Life ended 2023 with assets under management of $2.0 billion. For the 24th consecutive year, the insurer boasts an "A- Excellent" rating from financial rating agency AM Best.

Its solvency ratio stands at 157 per cent, according to the Life Insurance Capital Adequacy Test (LICAT) used by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions to assess the financial strength of insurers. Assumption Life's LICAT ratio was 158 per cent in 2022. Both measures are under IFRS 17.