Spring 2023 edition
Jason Storah on creating a thriving and inclusive work environment
As the world of work slowly returns to the current normal, some insurance companies like Aviva Canada have shifted their focus to being more leadership driven and less process driven. “We’ve accelerated the need to focus on our culture and how it feels to work in Aviva,” says Jason Storah, CEO Aviva Canada and IIC Chair.
“During the pandemic, we were guided by three principles: a healthcare plus approach, trusting people, and communicate, communicate, communicate. Since then, we’ve also accelerated the development of our leaders as well as our focus on inclusivity. We believe the main way we can differentiate ourselves as an employer is through our leaders and enabling our people to always be themselves working at Aviva.”
This laser focus on leadership has had a positive impact on Aviva’s employee engagement score which has risen steadily over the past three years, from 75% to 83% and 88%. “This wasn’t done by changes in policies but focusing on having high quality leaders in every leadership position. Establishing honest, open lines of communication, treating people with respect, and applying good judgement from your teams. This is the best way any business can help their people – and it starts with leaders,” says Jason.
Just be yourself
A large part of Aviva’s corporate culture is based on providing a safe environment for employees to be themselves at work. “For people to thrive at work they need to know that it’s okay to be themselves in every way, and our leaders need to exemplify that. The ability for individuals to feel safe to be who they are at work is one of the most important things about working at Aviva. We expect that every leader creates an environment of inclusion and equity where people can feel they have a voice to speak up.”
Jason adds that Aviva has five diversity and inclusion communities to help create this culture of inclusivity. “We have amazing volunteers and executive sponsors to keep us on track to ensure that all our people feel that Aviva is a safe place for them to voice their concerns and be their authentic selves.
Addressing the talent gap
When asked about the employment market, Jason says there are many opportunities in the industry right now, as supply doesn’t meet demand. “Employers are prepared to go with hiring perhaps 80% of the skills and attitude when previously the bar might have been at 90%. If you are a technical insurance person in this market, you can choose the organization that is the best fit for you and you can probably get involved in things that traditionally employers would ask for experience in.”
In order to attract new talent to meet this demand, Jason believes the insurance industry needs to tell a better, more proactive story about what it does, start embracing diversity and inclusion and clearly demonstrate a customer-focused mindset. “We are an industry that is generally (or certainly, historically) policy and process driven, rather than being trusting people and leadership driven. There’s a huge difference between those two and certainly, I know which one appeals to me more than the other.” He believes that from a talent standpoint, the key is to create an environment where people can be themselves. “It is our job as leaders to create an inclusive environment as part of an inclusive industry from the onset.”
He proudly points out Aviva’s major accomplishments in this area. Aviva was the first major financial services company in Canada to achieve 50%-50% female-male split across its VP+ roles, with 35% of visible minorities at that level.
Current data shows 80 per cent of the industry is white. The percentage of visible minorities is significantly lower if you look at those in senior leadership roles.
He adds: “We’re laser focused on supporting women’s career development. Also, we’ve quadrupled the number of visible minorities and tripled the number of women in our succession plans.”
“We have to tackle this collectively. Our work isn’t done until the makeup of our industry reflects the diversity that is the bedrock of Canadian society,” says Jason,
As part of its focus to attract more diverse students into the insurance industry, Aviva offers three Summer Student programs: one for all students, another for Black students and a third for Indigenous students.
“I think that when people are looking at different career options, it’s important that they can relate to the companies they’d like to work in, because they either recognize people like themselves working there, or aspire to be like people working there.”
With greater awareness of the opportunities and rewards, Jason feels more people would choose a career in the insurance industry. “Insurance companies exist to help people take risks they wouldn’t perhaps be able, or willing, to take on their own, and to get them back on their feet after something goes wrong. I think that’s a great industry to be part of. There are also real opportunities for those who want to make a difference more broadly in areas such as climate and sustainability because insurers see the impact of increasingly volatile weather on peoples’ lives all the time. Property & casualty insurers are also somewhat resilient to recession compared to other industries.”
Finally Jason says, “If we can tell our story about all the fantastic things that the insurance industry does, I think we’ll see a massive shift in how people view this industry and what drives their career choices.”
CIP’s Are Prepared for More: consumer focused ad campaign
Between January 16 – February 28, 2023 the Insurance Institute of Canada ran an extensive National Ad Campaign in English and French markets reminding Canadians that a CIP is the premier designation in the p&c insurance space.
Peter Hohman, MBA, FCIP, ICD.D and IIC President & CEO advised that “the Ad campaign’s goals were to raise awareness of our Chartered Insurance Professional’s premier brand in the consumer space in Canada amongst insurance professionals, and to promote the desire to work with CIP’s.” He went on to say that “promotional efforts leveraged an entirely new suite of advertising assets, including new English and French TV Ads and premium Digital Video placements.”
In English Canada, on CBC Network, TV Ad placements leveraged Closed Captioning Billboards with :10s video and tagline and :30s Brandsell spots. Additionally, CBC Digital Video placements included :30s video spots aimed at highly targeted audiences.
More campaign efforts in English Canada included programmatic placements featuring :30s and :15s Video.
Additionally, Bell SAM Digital Video of :30s and :15s were featured via in-stream pre-roll and mid-roll video placements on Bell Media’s owned assets including:
iHeartRadio, E!Online, Discovery, CTV, CTV Comedy, CTV Drama, CTV Sci-Fi, CTV Life, BNN Bloomberg and CTV News.
In French Canada, on RDI / CBC Broadcasting’s French Language speciality channel, TV Ad placements included the :15s Countdown Clock and :15s Brandsell assets.
More campaign efforts in French Canada included SRC Digital Video :15s Video spots and programmatic placements through highly targeted :30s and :15s Video spots.
A CIP Is There :30s English Spot
A CIP Is There :30s French Spot
So you want to be a … Commercial Underwriter
Property and casualty insurance has a multitude of career opportunities in a variety of settings. And in connecting with insurance professionals, you soon discover that there are almost as many routes through the industry as there are people who work in it. In this and upcoming issues of The Pace we will examine some of the many roles in insurance. We recently caught up with Amith Vijayakumar, a commercial auto underwriter with Desjardins Insurance, and asked him to tell us about his own path.
When I entered the insurance industry after obtaining an MBA in marketing, I looked at my first job in property and casualty insurance as a springboard for a career in market research. However, early in my career, I was fortunate enough to be able to work in a variety of areas within the insurance industry. The endless opportunities and flexibility provided within the industry helped me decide on the insurance industry as my career path. This decision has been and continues to be a great decision for me considering my interest and strong analytical skillset, which I am able to use daily in my role as an underwriter.
In my current role, I am responsible for the evaluation of new and existing commercial auto risks according to company guidelines, and I work in collaboration with an exclusive agent network. Our goals are to achieve profitable growth while balancing the member/client experience.
I start my day off by checking my emails and to-do list, prioritizing anything that requires my immediate attention. Most of my day involves supporting insurance sales agents, responding to their inquiries related to both new and existing risks in a prompt and efficient manner. I also spend a lot of time coaching and mentoring my colleagues, which plays a big part in ensuring alignment within our team and increasing the sense of empowerment my colleagues and I have when it comes to analyzing risks and working alongside our agency partners.
The dynamic nature of the p&c insurance industry is a challenge. The industry is incredibly fast-paced, and this is very evident in the commercial lines sector. I am constantly learning and staying abreast of new and ever-evolving industries and businesses in sectors such as transportation, service, retail and construction. The collaboration between underwriting, claims and sales agents has been key in helping navigate through these challenges.
Building knowledge and experience
The continuous learning provided by the Insurance Institute’s programs also played a role in helping me further my understanding of the p&c insurance market trends. Obtaining my CIP and a Commercial Insurance Certificate helped me to get to where I am now in my career as a commercial auto underwriter at Desjardins Insurance.
I view the CIP designation as a great introduction to the Canadian insurance industry. I found the entire CIP curriculum to be very well-rounded – it provides a very good overview of the industry as a whole. The CIP program was really helpful in determining what competencies I had and where I needed to focus my development.
After completing my CIP, I enrolled and completed my Commercial Insurance Certificate to expand my understanding of commercial risks. Additionally, I believe the on-the-job practical experience I’ve gained over the years in conjunction with learning from the commercial insurance programs have helped me gain the confidence required to be a strong underwriter and insurance professional.
Opportunities and advice
I would consider the experience of working in different areas of the insurance industry as one of my career successes to date. I have kept an open mind and always tried to look for opportunities that matched my current skillset and interests while also challenging me to develop further. With the help of mentors over the past few years, I have received opportunities to practise new skills and get involved in projects which have allowed me to build new abilities and knowledge along the way.
Something unique about my role is the areas of the company I get to work with on a regular basis. In my role as an underwriter, I collaborate with agents and claims professionals to share knowledge and market insights for successful risk evaluation and management.
To anyone interested in a similar role, I would say: Dive in and be curious. Based on my experience, my advice would be to start with doing some self-reflection to help identify your skills and interests and how they can be integrated into the various opportunities within the insurance industry. At first, you may find opportunities that match your skills appear stagnant or difficult to break into, but be patient and persistent – you will get there. Develop a network of contacts that know your skills and interests. Opportunities will come from people who know you and your interests.
You like us…you really like us!
This year’s National Education Month celebrated high praise for the Institute’s CIP program.
Results of a series of recent grad surveys show resounding endorsement for the CIP with over 90% of graduates saying they would recommend the CIP program to colleagues and friends.
Grads of the CIP program also praised it for exposing them to career options they didn’t know existed. They applauded it for the prestige the designation gives them in industry circles. And they have commended it for the confidence boost they experience after deepening their knowledge and understanding of insurance fundamentals.
The Institute frequently surveys students at the end of term to collect their feedback on the course they just finished, gathering useful information about how students view specific courses and instructors.
“We think there is also value in collecting graduates’ impressions of the program as a whole, so that we can assess the overall CIP learning experience, learn more about what motivates our students, and understand the value, whether tangible or intangible, that the completed CIP has for them,” says Lisa Boniface, Vice President, Programs. “This can help us to ensure that the program continues to serve industry needs as both the CIP and the industry evolve over time.”
The grad survey is administered three times a year and targets members who successfully completed their final CIP course in the preceding exam session. The first survey was carried out in June-July 2022, the second in September 2022, and the third in February 2023. The current plan is to continue with this schedule moving forward.
“The results will inform our overall medium to long-term planning for the program and its learning resources on an ongoing basis,” says Lisa.
Peter Hohman, IIC President and CEO added, “Our education development teams always strive to maintain and improve the premiere status of the CIP designation. We are determined that it will now and always be highly respected, recognized, and in demand by our industry and we are pleased to hear that our graduates are reaping the benefits of these efforts.”
Braedyn Atkin, CIP-- next stop FCIP
We first spoke with Braedyn Atkin a few years ago when she was a Personal Lines Account Executive and had recently completed her CIP designation. Since then, she has moved provinces twice, changed job roles, had a second child and embarked on her FCIP. It was exciting to catch up with her again and learn how her life and career are evolving.
Braedyn started in the insurance industry in March 2015. She says she felt an immediate passion for the industry and began to plan ahead for longevity and growth. She completed her CIP in 2019 and began considering her next step. “I came across the FCIP. Automatically, I knew I had to attempt to get that designation within 10 years.” She admits to being intimidated by parts of the program description. But that only deepened her determination to rise to the challenge. “I value education, and I believe that the more knowledge I have the better insurance professional I can be for my clients, as well as my colleagues. I also believe that this sets a great example for my children.”
Over recent years Braedyn has moved from personal lines to a hybrid broker position that sees her juggling both personal and commercial insurance. She has relished the opportunity to learn the commercial side of the business. “The more one knows and understands in our industry, the better. I would have been crazy to say, no.” She describes a typical day as beginning with emails, followed by checking activities on her company’s broker management system to see what has come up, then contacting clients to discuss renewals and field questions or concerns. It is the client interaction that really fuels her interest. “I have a very outgoing personality, and therefore getting to talk to people with many personalities and stories is always a great time.”
Braedyn is currently on maternity leave with her second child. She is also working through her third FCIP course. It’s a tough juggling act but she describes her time on the FCIP program so far as, ‘incredible’! She says keeping her grades high has been the best part of the FCIP experience. “This has been a huge personal accomplishment for me as I was pregnant through the 1st course, with a new baby through the 2nd course. Continuing with my 3rd course while on maternity leave with a baby who is more active and awake now can be challenging at times. So, being able to complete courses with grades in the 80s is an incredible feeling and motivates me to continue to push myself through.”
Advice and insights
Braedyn is coming up to her eighth year in insurance, yet says she still feels as excited about her career as she did at the start. She finds the opportunity for growth highly appealing. “Knowing that there are many options within the industry for career choices ensures things never get boring.” She believes education and learning empowers insurance professionals to make the most of the available career opportunities and is passionate about the benefits of gaining your FCIP. “If you are considering it, do it. Do not wait, if you qualify - apply for admission and jump in! I guarantee you will not regret it.” She says even if the program looks intimidating on paper, in reality it’s very manageable and the doors the designation opens up are invaluable. “You will meet so many incredible people within the industry from across the country; and your instructors will be great resources as well. I have made some wonderful friends throughout these courses, and we now cheer each other on with successes and help through failures!”
We wish Braedyn all the best as she navigates the next step in her career, education journey and life.
Fun Facts about insurance
Think insurance is boring? Think again. Check out these fun facts.
There is such a thing as hole-in-one golf insurance. In Japan, it’s customary for whoever makes this incredibly lucky shot to throw a celebratory party that can cost up to $10,000. In order to cut costs, many golfers take out special insurance policies just in case they get lucky.
A unique kind of liability coverage is “death by laughter insurance”. This policy is designed to protect comedians, stand-up comics, or anyone else who runs the risk of killing someone through their funny jokes. Although it’s most commonly said as a joke in itself as someone’s ideal way to go, it turns out you can actually die laughing.
CIP Society Corner
The National Leadership Awards
Do you have a boss or mentor who deserves recognition for their leadership and vision? Maybe you have a colleague that is having a large impact early in their insurance career. Nominate your insurance industry superstar for a National Leadership Award.
The CIP Society Leadership Awards highlight achievement in the p&c industry across Canada. Help the Society identify both Established and Emerging Leaders who exemplify professionalism, vision, and engagement within their organizations and communities.
Learn more about eligibility and applying for the 2023 National Leadership Awards
Meet the 2022 Established and Emerging Leadership Award Recipients.
The Rhind Bursary
CIP Society Members know the importance of a good education. If you are interested in advancing your insurance learning in the ACIP, FCIP or certificate programs but won’t be financially supported by your employer, consider applying for a Rhind Bursary.
The Rhind Bursary program offers two bursaries per year. Each of the bursaries covers the full cost of tuition, textbooks, and exam fees for one course in the intended designation or certification program.
Have a child who wants to pursue a CIP education? The Rhind Bursary committee will consider applications from dependents of active CIP Society members who are enrolled in the CIP.
Learn more about eligibility and applying for the 2023 Rhind Bursary Program.
It’s almost Membership Renewal time
Your membership year runs from June 1 to May 31, and at the beginning of May, we’ll be sending out the 2023/2024 Membership Renewal Notices. Prompt renewal of your Institute membership enables you to continue towards your educational goals and be offered exciting professional development opportunities as well as the latest industry knowledge and news.
If your employer participates in our MemberDirect Membership Renewal Program, you might not receive an invoice yourself, as your HR team will be handling it. If you do receive an invoice, or if you are a member who is billed individually for your renewal, please respond promptly—we appreciate it. Keeping your employer information and other contact information up to date on your profile will ensure you receive your renewal invoice in a timely manner. Continued active membership will ensure that service interruptions are avoided and that you will always have access to the latest industry knowledge and news.
Keep in touch
Have your contact details changed? Help us to keep you up to date.
The Insurance Institute is here to help you enhance your professional life and keep you abreast of all the latest industry knowledge and exciting new opportunities. We’re always developing new seminars, courses, and events for industry professionals. However, to ensure we’re able to keep you in “the industry loop,” we need to have your current contact details.
Have you changed jobs? Do we have your e-mail address?
The Institute is now making an effort to be more environmentally conscious by sending out more e-mail communications. So if you haven’t received anything from us in e-mail format, chances are we have either an incorrect e-mail address for you or no e-mail address at all.
It’s so easy to update your on-line profile now by visiting /en/My-Page/My-Profile. Just log in as a new or existing on-line user, go to “My Profile,” and click “Update” beside your address—it’s quick and easy. And while you’re there, remember that, on our website, you can research, register, and pay for courses, seminars, and events, all from the comfort of your own home or office.
Exams – have it your way
Since spring 2017, all courses in the CIP and General Insurance Essentials (GIE) Programs have had computer-based examinations. In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, examinations for the CIP and GIE Programs have also been virtually proctored.
Students now have the option to write their exams either through virtual proctoring or in person at one of the Institute’s examination centres.
Virtual proctoring works by a live virtual proctor observing you taking your exam through your webcam. The virtual proctor will also help you troubleshoot any technical issues if necessary.
In-person exams can be written at your local institute office or a select few additional third-party centres. Exam centres are selected at the time of exam booking. If you wish to write an in-person exam, book early, as capacity at these centres will be limited.
Once you are registered to write the exam, you can select a date and time from the dates below. Upon registration, a booking confirmation email will be sent to you. Your exam details can be found in the exam portal once you have scheduled your exam.
Examinations in either format will be offered April 3 through April 18. You should schedule your exam immediately after registration.
For more information about examinations, please visit our website.
Three hours are allowed for each CIP subject and two hours for GIE subjects. Good luck.