Coal-oil lamp and wooden threshing machine accidents may not be as common as they were when Wawanesa Mutual Insurance was founded on the Canadian plains in 1896, but the property/casualty insurer still has plenty to keep it busy. The company, one of the 10 largest property/casualty insurers in Canada, offers commercial and personal lines, including business, farm, homeowner, and automobile policies. It also owns a demutualized life insurer, Wawanesa Life. Wawanesa operates throughout Canada as well as in California and Oregon. The company sells its products through more than 1,300 independent agents (except in Quebec, where company agents handle the distribution). Wawanesa is owned by its policyholders.
As a mutual insurance company, the firm aims to operate in the best interest of its member/owners by establishing long-term growth patterns and a financially stable organization. As such, Wawanesa abides by a conservative investment policy. It also keeps its management structures uncomplicated, allowing agents more intimate relationships with customers.
To enhance its business services, the company continuously works to improve its information services. Its efforts in 2011 have included its organization-wide launch of a new claims system (Guidewire's ClaimCentre) and the completion of a broker portal project with such added functionality as online endorsement submissions. In 2009 the company implemented a new data management system for internal budget control.
In fiscal 2011 Wawanesa's premium revenues increased by 5.6%, and its investment income increased more than 6% to bring its total revenues to C$2.7 billion ($2.6 billion). Both of the company's segments, however, had decreased profits that resulted in an overall drop of 16% to C$108 million ($106.7 million), down from C$129 million ($127 million) in 2010. Severe weather (mainly in Alberta and other areas of western Canada) was the main cause for the negative impact on its property/casualty results; its life operations results were affected by the low interest rate environment which required reserve increases. Wawanesa's assets havve continued to grow steadily, increasing to more than C$7 billion ($6.9 billion) in 2011 (a 7% increase over 2010). The company's policies inforce have also grown to nearly 2 million.
Wawanesa's strategy is to continue with the broad-scale enterprise system renewal of all of its insurance systems and to improve its underwriting results by increasing rates, changing its products, or in other ways. The company is also reviewing its investment policies in relation to increased regulatory capital requirements, and it is studying its earthquake exposure risk, since these occurrances have grown significantly in recent years and require increased reinsurance costs. – less