Beneva reported consolidated net income of $271.5 million in 2023, marking a 149 per cent increase from its consolidated net income in 2022.

The consolidated return on equity for the Quebec-based insurer stood at 8.1 per cent in 2023, closing the year with assets totaling $25.2 billion and equity capital at $3.5 billion. 

The insurer's solvency ratio reached 141 per cent in 2023, calculated according to the Capital Adequacy Requirements for life and health insurance (CARLI) set by Quebec’s financial markets regulator, the Autorité des marchés financiers, which establishes the minimum target ratio at 99 per cent. “These financial results show that Beneva is growing and establishing itself in a highly competitive market.," stated Jean-François Chalifoux, CEO of Beneva, during the company's annual meeting on April 25, 2024. 

New insurance business 

New insurance business amounted to approximately $533 million, while insurance business volumes reached $6.6 billion, excluding annuities, for an 8 per cent increase over the previous year. Chalifoux says Beneva is the insurer that covers the most people in Quebec. 

In an exclusive interview with Insurance Portal, Chalifoux discussed the 149 per cent growth in net income, attributing it to several factors. Like other insurers, Beneva had to readjust its 2022 profits due to the new IFRS accounting standards (17 – Insurance Contracts, and 9 – Financial Instruments). Chalifoux highlighted that Beneva achieved these results during a year marked by "significant investments related to integration." 

The economic climate and stock markets also fueled the net result, according to Chalifoux. "They supported the performance of our investments, as well as the performance of our business lines." Beneva's insurance operations span group insurance, property and casualty insurance, and individual life insurance, which primarily includes segregated funds. 

Wealth management products particularly benefited from the uptick in stock markets, with new financial services business reaching $11.9 billion in 2023, up 10 per cent from 2022. Chalifoux added that "property and casualty insurance results were generally strong, despite pressures from inflation and climate-related events." 

In the interview, Chalifoux also mentioned that Beneva managed to maintain its market shares in both personal and property and casualty insurance in Canada. The company's total premiums surpassed $5.5 billion, affirming its position as the top insurer in Quebec. The merger of SSQ Insurance and La Capitale, finalized on January 1, 2024, made Beneva the largest mutual insurance group in the country with 2.7 million members, as Chalifoux highlighted in his speech to the Cercle finance du Québec on April 15, 2024. Beneva employs 5,500 people, with 4,000 in the National Capital region. 

Call center delays 

Chalifoux acknowledged that "rebuilding the plumbing with new ecosystems" had been challenging for Beneva. The insurer implemented new technologies in 2023. "As much as our employees had to familiarize themselves with the new technologies, our clients had to navigate the changes in a turbulent context. Prevailing inflation led to an increase in insurance premiums," he told the audience. 

In his annual report message, Chalifoux noted that inflation had significantly driven up vehicle repair costs, consequently raising individual auto insurance prices and increasing client call volumes. At the Cercle finance du Québec, he detailed how call centers experienced a 20 to 30 per cent spike in traffic, and they were unprepared for the additional volume. This created considerable pressure. Clients of SSQ and La Capitale were not used to such long wait times on the phone, he added. 

However, Chalifoux sees the pressure easing. He reflected on the challenge, stating, "We should never underestimate how each technological change is perceived by the client. We could have better supported our clients." In the interview, he noted that wait times for property and casualty insurance have returned to pre-merger levels, and are being restored in group insurance, though some issues remain in individual insurance and savings. "This has tested the patience of our employees and distribution partners," Chalifoux admitted, saying his teams are now working hard to resolve the situation. 

Stabilizing the organization 

Chalifoux is focused on stabilizing the organization first. "Many employees are working with new systems, while others are still using the old ones and preparing to switch to the new tools. We need to take the time to ensure we are proficient with our new tools to restore the level of service our clients expect and deserve," he underlined. 

In the medium term, he aims to enhance client experience, for example, by offering a digital omnichannel approach "where we make better use of data."