Winter 2021 edition

IIC Chair, Heather Masterson:  Invest in yourself for the best dividends

IIC Chair, Heather Masterson: Invest in yourself for the best dividends

“Learning is critical at every stage of your career, whether you are just starting in the industry or looking to build and advance your career,” says Heather Masterson, President and CEO, Travelers Canada and IIC Chair. “The best way to prepare for your career journey is with a strong investment in your education and professional development.”

Heather’s own insurance career journey was filled with learning opportunities, starting with values instilled by her father. “You often hear people say they “fell into” the industry,” says Heather. “However, my introduction to the insurance industry started as a child in St. John’s, Newfoundland, listening to my father talk about the brokerage he was working hard to build. During university, I worked in the family business doing odd jobs that needed to be done (think shredding files) and then took on a position with the Wellington Insurance Company doing home inspections. It was great pocket money and my first introduction into the concept of risk management.”

After graduating from university, Heather moved to Toronto to build her insurance experience as an underwriting trainee for a large carrier. Upon completion of the program, she became an Associate Underwriter and, soon after, an Underwriter. “It provided a terrific foundation and enabled me to accelerate my education by obtaining my first professional designation.”

Heather joined AIG in 1996, and spent two years honing her underwriting skills as a Specialty Lines Casualty Underwriter, before heading home to St. John’s to join the Colonial Fire and General Insurance Company as the Director of Commercial Lines. “For personal reasons (I married a wonderful man from Toronto) I moved back to Toronto a year later and rejoined AIG as AVP of National Accounts, and a few years later as Vice President of AIG Worldsource in Canada, a division that, along with a great team of professionals, we built from zero to $50 million in just seven years.”

She joined Hub International in 2009 as their Chief Marketing Officer and later as Executive Vice President of Risk Management and International Client Services. Three years later, she moved to Totten Insurance Group as President and CEO to oversee business operations and manage the profitability of the company and its partner insurance companies. “This allowed me to expand my international scope and knowledge base, and to become skilled in negotiations with the London market, placing over $70M in GWP with Lloyd’s annually.”

She says a strong desire to keep learning played a key role in her success. “The importance of education and lifelong learning is something that was impressed on me by my father. He told us to make education a top priority, and it will empower us to do great things. It’s a message I’m passing along to my own daughters and one that I actively endorse for the 1,400 employees at Travelers Canada.”

Heather was recently elected Chair of The Insurance Institute of Canada and stresses the importance volunteering plays in a satisfying career path. Her involvement with the Institute started as a student, then a CIP instructor, as a Governing Council Member, and Chair of the CIP Committee. In 2018, she was appointed President of the Insurance Institute of Ontario. “I’m looking forward to continuing this journey with members, students and graduates of the Institute and listening to their ideas on furthering education and professional development across our industry.”

The need to get involved and volunteer was advice Heather received early in her career from her former colleague and friend, Lynn Oldfield. “This was very good advice, and I can’t stress enough the importance of getting involved. It is such a natural extension of the work we do every day in our business – helping others. And the benefits of volunteering go beyond the organizations we support. Putting your knowledge and skills to good use at the Institute not only helps build the next generation of insurance professionals, it contributes to your own personal growth and development.”

Heather says the future is bright for young professionals entering the insurance industry. “People underestimate how interesting and rewarding a career in the insurance industry can be. Whether you’re interested in risk management, finance, technology, human resources, law, engineering, marketing or sales, there is a place in this industry for you – and the opportunities to develop and progress your career are unlimited. And as a real portion of our industry prepares to retire over the next five to 10 years, there will be even more opportunities for professional development and advancement.”

Here are Heather’s top tips for a successful career:

  • Work hard – there are no short cuts.
  • Keep learning and building new skills – more than ever, the best way to prepare for your career journey is with a strong foundation of education and professional development. Learning is critical at every stage of your career, whether you are just starting in the industry or looking to build and advance your career.
  • Stay visible and advocate for yourself – in addition to getting your work noticed, it’s important that you get noticed. Don’t be afraid to speak up, actively participate and raise your hand to lead important initiatives.
  • Create opportunities – volunteer for new assignments and special projects, and seek out career-advancing opportunities, especially if they’re high profile or cross-functional. This can greatly enhance your visibility in your own department and beyond.
  • Build your network of champions – if you want to move your career forward, remember you can’t succeed without a network of champions – colleagues, mentors and sponsors.

The Insurance Institute joins the Digital Badge club

The Insurance Institute joins the Digital Badge club

Digital badges have been growing in popularity over the last 10 years. The Insurance Institute has now joined the party offering its members the opportunity to earn a digital badge upon completion of a certificate or designation.

How the badge works

Digital badges are portable images that represent accreditations. They allow holders to share their credentials easily in digital spaces. The badges can be displayed in a host of places, from social media channels to websites, digital resumes to email signatures. They can even be used offline via a link on a business card, for example. With a simple click on the badge, interested parties are ported to a secure webpage where they can see details of the time spent, skills gained, and knowledge acquired during a particular course of study.

The benefits

The Institute’s digital badges reflect completion of an entire academic designation or certificate. They are a distinctive visual representation of the holder’s knowledge that can be validated with a single click. Like a collection of plaques on an office wall, they enhance the credibility of insurance professionals as they move about the digital world. They can also help with employment. Employers can search the digital badge website for specialized skills, while the badge holders have access to labour market insights and other job data.

The rollout

Institute members who earned their FCIP designation before June 2020 will be the first to receive access to the digital badges. CIP and ACIP holders who obtained their designation before May 2021 will be next in line. The program will be rolled out to all remaining graduates of the Institute’s designation and certificate programs over the next few months. Users must hold a current Institute membership to access their badge and keep it active.

A day in the life of Suela Dibra

A day in the life – Suela Dibra

In today’s digital world, there are endless opportunities to collect and learn from data. Undoubtedly, the use of data to illustrate trends and drive decisions is transforming the p&c insurance industry. To learn more about what it means to be a data specialist in the insurance field, we spoke with Suela Dibra, Manager of Business Intelligence & Analytics at Northbridge Financial Corporation.

Starting out
As an economics student at Western University, working in insurance wasn’t on Suela’s radar. However, a professor she worked with at Western passed along her resume to Paul Kovacs, then President and CEO of the Property and Casualty Insurance Compensation Corporation (PACICC). The two met and the conversation led to a job offer. “I was captivated by the wealth of data the industry has access to,” Suela says.

Suela’s insurance journey
Suela began her insurance career as a business analyst. She was hired to work on a research study that looked at insurance companies that have exited the market involuntarily (fun fact: this report is now used as part of the FCIP curriculum). This job led to a senior analyst position, which then led to a leadership role. She’s now been with Northbridge for nearly 13 years.

In her current role, she leads a group of analysts who are responsible for data mining and reporting. Her team extracts and analyzes data to help inform business decisions. They create visualizations to share insights with the executive team, providing data-driven recommendations. Recently, they were responsible for showing the impact of the pandemic on the organization on both the premium and claims side.

“Data is our industry’s ‘bread and butter’,” Suela says. She said that she’s seen a heightened interest in the use of data over the span of her career, and that big data analytics and artificial intelligence are driving huge changes in the industry. Plus, there is no shortage of data to draw from: online media and the Internet of Things provide new sources of data to analyze behaviours, habits, and lifestyles that are impacting the insurance industry.

Suela loves being able to leverage the power of data to provide insights to decision makers. She also enjoys being able to mentor and coach her team members, helping them reach their potential on their own insurance journeys.

Why insurance?
The abundance of data available within the insurance industry is what drew Suela in. “I find working with data and telling stories using data quite fascinating,” she says.

She also appreciates the important role of insurance in society. “Insurance touches almost every aspect of our lives,” she says. “The insurance industry helps people, to restore businesses, and to better our communities.”

Advice and insights
For anyone who is looking to start or advance a career in data, Suela recommends connecting with an established insurance professional. These experienced individuals can provide guidance on roles that exist within the industry, as well as on emerging skillsets that are in demand.

If someone is unsure where to start, she suggests taking advantage of the resources available through the Insurance Institute’s Career Ambassadors program. There’s no need to be shy: she says students often reach out to her via LinkedIn, and she’s happy to connect for a quick chat to discuss opportunities. Reaching out to someone can help you understand how your passion for numbers can turn into an exciting career. As Suela reminds us, “if you love what you do, you don’t have to work a day in your life.”

How to shoot a good cell phone video

How to shoot a good cell phone video

The pandemic has clearly demonstrated the value of good online engagement. Not every event takes place in real time, and it’s increasingly common to be asked to submit a video contribution. You don’t have to be Spike Lee to produce a striking piece of content, and you don’t need a camera crew to appear professional and capable. All you need is your phone and some golden rules.

Let there be light
Nothing beats the magic of natural light. If you can shoot near a window during the day, half the battle is won. If not, a good lamp will also do the job. Try to position a light source behind the camera. Think of it as your spotlight and let it shine.

Steady does it
If you try to hold your phone while you film, the natural shake if your hand might make the audience think they’re at sea. Instead, attach your phone to a tripod to keep it steady. If you don’t have one, prop it up against a pile of books, or something similar, then get down to eye level.

Which way up?
There are social media platforms that work best with a portrait (vertical) shot. However, if your audience is watching your content on a computer or TV screen, a landscape (horizontal) shot will fill the screen more effectively and avoid those unsightly thick black bars on either side. Flip your phone on its side and shoot away.

Dress it up
Think about your outfit and the message you want it to send. Yes, you may have spent the day at home, cozily attired in a hoodie, but consider the event the video is being made for. If you were attending in person, what would you wear? Choose an outfit along the same lines.

Background is everything
You don’t want to fight your background for the viewer’s attention. To avoid this, aim for a neutral background with a dollop of personality. A bookshelf, painting or plant can keep things lively without stealing the spotlight. A plain wall is also a winner.

You’ve been framed
Position your phone so you’re looking directly at it, not above or below the lens. The viewer will feel more connected as you’ll be speaking directly to them.

Message delivered
Rehearse your words before shooting. If you need prompts, put a few key words on a sheet of paper behind the phone that you can glance at. Try to avoid looking down to read notes.

Message to our graduating students

Message to our graduating students

Caps off to our very special graduates of 2021! What a fantastic accomplishment, made even more impressive by the challenging year in which you graduated. When speaking of the accomplishments of the graduates, Peter Hohman, President and CEO of The Insurance Institute of Canada said “Each graduate has their own unique story of the challenges they faced to earn their Institute designation, particularly during the many months of stay-at-home orders and sometimes very personal impacts of the virus. Congratulations on your tremendous accomplishments during these most unusual circumstances.”

What’s more? You are in great company. The Insurance Institute has found that p&c professionals remained eager to learn, despite challenges posed by pandemic restrictions. In fact, the number of CIP graduates is up 20% this year over usual levels. Peter Hohman said “We thought for the first few months that people might step away from their studies, but they really got going. That really demonstrates the resilience of industry people.”

It is a well-known fact that our graduates go on in their careers to become leaders and significant contributors in their chosen field and communities. With the type of resilience demonstrated by this year’s grads, we can’t wait to see the change you will bring about as you continue to make us proud. It is safe to say that you are in possession of the knowledge that roadblocks are there to be built into whatever you choose to create.

With the approach of Convocation in the first quarter of 2022, the moment to celebrate together with your peers and family is coming soon. Be assured that more information and specifics will follow. We are pulling out all the stops to make it special for you and are excited to celebrate you and your hard work. We hope you enjoy your grad gift box of mementos which should arrive before the end of December, and that you choose to share some selfies with them on our social media accounts. Be sure to tag The Insurance Institute of Canada for some fun social applause.

Congratulations again graduates!

Celebrating leadership in the industry in Canada

Celebrating leadership in the p&c industry in Canada

The CIP Society National Leadership Awards were created in 2011 to highlight achievement across Canada. This year’s winners have been recognized by their peers for their contribution and impact on the p&c community and will be welcomed into the CIP Society Leadership Circle at convocation events in the new year.

The 2021 Established Leaders are:

Glenda Ouellette, BA, MBA, FCIP
Langley, BC
Established Leader

“Glenda has passion for people, business, life, and learning. She brings an incredible presence to a room that attracts people to want to engage with her,” writes Glenda’s supporter Kerry McLaughlin. Throughout her remarkable career, Glenda has touched the lives of many within the p&c industry and has had a profound impact that has made ripples across her organization and beyond. Read Glenda’s profile to learn more.

Lynn Whitehead, CIP, ACIP, CRM
Toronto, ON
Established Leader

“Lynn’s passion for her work and the industry is contagious, and anyone who has the pleasure to work with Lynn can see the impact she makes,” writes Laurie Balfour, Executive Director of the Automobile Insurance Rate Board. As an established leader, Lynn’s contributions have been invaluable to her employer, the insurance industry and the policyholders who benefit from her dedication and hard work. Read Lynn’s profile to learn more.

“On behalf of our Council and the graduate membership, I am honoured to welcome two new respected leaders and mentors into the Leadership Circle at this, our 12th year of the National Leadership Awards,” said Rosalind Staples-Simpson, Chair of the Professionals’ Council. “Glenda and Lynn join the more than 40 individuals across Canada who have achieved this honour.”

This year’s winners will be presented with a one-of-a-kind sculpture and inducted into the CIP Society Leadership Circle at virtual convocations: Glenda at the Insurance Institute of British Columbia convocation on January 26, 2022 and Lynn at the Insurance Institute of Ontario - GTA convocation on February 24, 2022.

To find out more about the awards, and to nominate a leader for 2022, please visit

Fun Facts about insurance

Fun Facts about insurance

Think insurance is boring? Think again.

A simple smile can brighten up someone’s day. Did you know that some celebrities can have their smile insured for up to 10 million dollars?

Everything has an element of risk including growing plants/crops at home, in a public garden or for your business. Risks like natural disaster, erosion, or even someone knocking plants over can cause havoc. Thankfully, there's even insurance for rare and exotic plants.

CIP Society

CIP Society Corner

Our latest Quarterly explores Risk Management and Net-Zero Underwriting

In the latest issue of the CIP Society Quarterly Review, we focus on two topics that have risen to prominence over the past year.

The first article explores the benefits of having a risk management designation. Though risk management has always been central to insurance, Covid-19 helped focus businesses and governments on risk in ways that many hadn’t before. We focus on the Canadian Risk Management designation and discuss how it provides valuable training and a recognized credential that can be valuable to your insurance career.

The second article is on the topic of climate change. More particularly, on the insurance industry’s actions related to trying to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In 2019 a number of insurers and re-insurers committed to transitioning their investment portfolios to net-zero. In July 2021 a group of insurers and reinsurers formed the Net-Zero Insurance Alliance, committing to transitioning their underwriting portfolios to net zero as well. In this article we focus on underwriting strategies that can foster the transition.

Read the latest Quarterly Review online.

New report in the Emerging Issues Research Series

The CIP Society is pleased to be supporting a series of annual research reports on emerging issues in the p&c insurance industry. This past year, the Insurance Institute published the report, AI and Big Data: Implications for the Insurance Industry in Canada. The sixth report in the Emerging Issues Research Series explores the risks and opportunities around the adoption and acceptance of new systems and technologies. The report considers how transparency, explainability, and the fair treatment of consumers will be central to managing the coming changes. The report considers six critical questions and provides eight recommendations for the industry.

Upcoming in the series is a new report on risk management. Managing Risk: Implications for the insurance industry in Canada is scheduled for release in the spring of 2022 and will be included in discussion panels at CIP Society Symposium events across the country shortly thereafter. The new report will examine how the industry could increasingly provide loss reduction knowledge and services to policyholders. There is prospect for the insurance industry in Canada to redefine its role from compensation after loss to the business of managing risk.

About the Author

Five of the six reports in our Emerging Issues Research series have been authored by Paul Kovacs, who is widely known and respected in the industry as the founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR), President and CEO of the Property and Casualty Insurance Compensation Corporation (PACICC), and Adjunct Research Professor, Economics, at the University of Western Ontario. Paul also holds the title of Senior Researcher with the Insurance Institute.

Notice board

Notice Board

2021/22 IIC Board of Governors

Chair: *Heather Masterson, BA, BEd, FCIP (Travelers Canada)

Deputy Chair: *Jason Storah, BEc (Aviva Canada)

Vice-Chair— Governor-at-Large: *Valérie Lavoie, BASc (Desjardins)

Past Chair: *Martin Thompson, ACII (Fairfax Financial Holdings)

Regional Vice Chairs:

*Suzie Godmer, PAA (ATK Technologies) (Quebec)
*Joanne Hampson, FCIP (Retired) (Western Provinces)
*Ross McDougall (McDougall Insurance and Financial) (Ontario)
*Helen O'Donnell, CIP, CRM (The Co-operators) (Atlantic Provinces)

The chairs of the standing committees in 2021/2022 will be the following:

Executive Committee: *Jason Storah, BEc (Aviva Canada)
Academic Division: *Paul Croft, BS, BA Poli Sci (Aon Risk Solutions)
Professionals’ Division: *Rosalind Staples-Simpson, BComm, FCIP (RSA Canada)

*= Executive Committee member

The balance of the Board of Governors comprises representatives of local institutes and chapters:

Newfoundland and Labrador:
Denise Roche, CAIB, CIP, CRM (Anthony Insurance Inc.)
Tina Rowntree, FCIP, CRM (Wedgewood Insurance)

Prince Edward Island:
Lola Inman, CIP, CAIB (Huestis Insurance Group)

Nova Scotia:
Matt Robblee, CAIB, CIP (Caldwell Roach Agencies)
Stacey Purcell, FCIP (Aviva Canada)

New Brunswick:
Richard Ravn, FCIP, CRM (Asurion)
Marie Clifford, FCIP (Aviva Canada)

Lisa Desgagné, PAA (Northbridge Assurance)
Alex Stringer, FPAA, CRM (DPA Assurances)

Andrew Steen, CIP (Berkeley Canada)
Dave Smiley, BSc, FCIP (Ecclesiastical Insurance)
Dave Penstone, FCIP, CRM, RIB (Gillons Insurance Brokers Ltd.)
Alana Halapija, FCIP, CRM (Intact)
Victoria Hanson, BA, RVP, RRP, CVP, CRM, ACS, CIP (Crawford & Company (Canada))
Jason Foroglou, MBA, FCIP, CRM (Ivantage Insurance Brokers)
Hilary Scaffidi, FCIP, CRM, CAIB, CSIP (Rhodes and Williams)
Lisa Vercillo, CIP, CRM (Magenta Insurance Professionals Inc.)

Jennifer Tougas, FCIP, CRM (Intact Insurance Company)
Jennifer Scott, BFA, CIP (Manitoba Public Insurance)

Lee Marshall, CIP, CA, CPA (SGI Canada)
Debra Bachek, FCIP (SGI Canada)

Southern Alberta:
Christa Cole, CIP (The Cooperators)
Darius Delon, MBA, FCIP (Risk Management 101)

Northern Alberta:
Ingrid Butler-Sieben (Aviva Canada)
Shelora Lopez, CIP (The Cooperators)

British Columbia:
Sarah Tung, BComm, FCIP, CRM (AXA XL, a division of AXA)
Debra Copeland, BA, FCIP (Intact Insurance)
Janine Marchi, BSc, LLB, CIP (ICBC)

Your Board of Governors comprises members from all parts of the country and all sectors of the industry; it would be difficult to imagine a more representative group.

Recognize the governors who represent you and let them know of any comments you may have about the Institute’s programs. Members must be active in a membership association. We need to hear from you.

The Honour Roll

A CIP designation is impressive enough in its own right. Even more impressive is an Honours CIP—eight of ten CIP courses passed with honours. The following Honours graduates were elected this year:

British Columbia
Doanh (Van) Sy Dang
Aon Reed Stenhouse Inc. (British Columbia)
Tracy Feist
Insurance Corporation of BC (British Columbia)
Yasmin Kaur (British Columbia)
Jovina Low
Intact Insurance Company (British Columbia)
Jessica Ann Mejia
Intact Insurance Company (British Columbia)
Eduardo Pinto Morante
Westland Insurance Group Ltd. (British Columbia)
Eric Louise Vetter
Insurance Corporation of BC (British Columbia)

Amy Cooper
Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Co. (Manitoba)
Richard Lester Jones
Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Co. (Manitoba)

New Brunswick
Alexa Fitzsimmons
The Co-operators (New Brunswick)

Northern Alberta
Jessa Bushell
Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Co. (Northern Alberta)
Ashley Hamilton
The Co-operators (Northern Alberta)

Nikhil Sunil Apte (Ontario – Greater Toronto Area)
Rebecca Arbon
The Co-operators (Ontario – Greater Toronto Area)
Ann Haniff
The Co-operators (Ontario – Conestoga)
Agha Mujtaba Hussain
Intact Insurance Company (Ontario – Greater Toronto Area)
David ‘Alan’ Johnston
Howick Mutual Insurance Co. (Ontario – Southwestern)
Darlene Kokalovski
Desjardins General Insurance Group (Ontario – Greater Toronto Area)
Ritesh Mahajan
Desjardins General Insurance Group (Ontario – Ottawa)
Rachel McGrath
Economical Insurance (Ontario – Southwestern)
Alexa Kayley Moore
Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. (Ontario – Greater Toronto Area)
Kelvin Pepper
Intact Insurance Company (Ontario – Greater Toronto Area)
James David Ross
Intact Insurance Company (Ontario – Ottawa)
Erica Royce
The Co-operators (Ontario – Conestoga)
Shruvin Shah
Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Co. (Ontario – Greater Toronto Area)
Larissa Shaw
The Co-operators (Ontario – Conestoga)
Achsah Turnbull
Front Row Insurance Brokers Inc. (Ontario – Greater Toronto Area)
Chizoba Joan Uzoewulu
Economical Insurance (Ontario – Conestoga)
Leo Yeung
Intact Insurance Company (Ontario – Kawartha/Durham)

Maude Bazinet
Assurances Gilles Bazinet inc. (Quebec)
Vanessa Boissonneault
La Capitale Assurance et services financiers (Quebec)
Caroline Martin
Groupe Promutuel (Quebec)
Manoah Toninato
Desjardins Assurances générales (Quebec)

Southern Alberta
Breeze Manderville
Travelers Canada (Southern Alberta)

Congratulations to these outstanding graduates

Scholarships: Lending a helping hand to students

The Institute manages three scholarship programs: the Lloyd King Scholarships, the John E. Lowes Insurance Education Fund, and the Toronto Insurance Council Scholarships.

Each of these programs offers students a financial boost as they pursue their education. We are pleased to announce the recipients of this year’s scholarships:

John E. Lowes Scholarship
Paula Trujillo
Mohawk College

Lloyd King Scholarship
Jared Butt
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Ella Franklin
Dalhousie University

Toronto Insurance Council (TIC) Scholarship
Taylor Hare
Dalhousie University
Jacob Scodeller
McMaster University

Convocation ceremonies

Our graduates have worked long and hard for their designations. They deserve our full recognition. Watch for details on our website of the virtual convocation ceremonies being planned by your local institutes and chapters. Mark your calendar and take part in a special occasion. Let’s support our local graduates.

Pay your dues, get your grades

Many students are not aware that they must pay their annual local institute membership fees to obtain their final grades for most of our programs. Students with unpaid memberships who go to our website for their grades or student records will find they have no access to them.

If you are unsure whether your membership is current, go to, then click “Login” and follow the instructions. Once logged in, select “my Profile” from the top menu and then “My Membership Information” from the left-hand menu. If your membership fee has been paid, you should see an expiry date of May 31, 2022 (or later). If your membership fee has not been paid, click “Purchase/Renew Membership” to renew your membership for the current year. To see your grades, click “Education,” followed by “My Courses.” Don’t be disappointed—remember to renew your membership each year.

’Tis the season— exam season, that is!

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 are now also virtually proctored.

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.

Computer-based, virtually proctored exams will be offered on select dates from November 29 through December 13. You should schedule your virtually proctored exam immediately after registration.

Three hours are allowed for each CIP subject and two hours for GIE subjects.

For more information about virtual proctoring, please visit our website.