’Til the Cows Come Home

After 9/11 made agribusiness a riskier affair, Lakeview Insurance Brokers remains one of the only firms providing a backup plan to the farms of Manitoba and Saskatchewan

The Lakeview Insurance team at the company’s head office in Winnipeg.

Like many companies that have successfully managed changing market conditions, Winnipeg-based Lakeview Insurance Brokers has become a dominant and growing force in the Manitoba and Saskatchewan provinces and beyond.

While it provides a wide variety of insurance coverage—from personal to commercial to nonprofit—agribusiness continues to remain Lakeview’s most profitable sector. Ironically, a radical shift in this highly specialized industry helped propel this insurance provider to its current level of prominence.

“As a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the insurance industry placed greater focus upon businesses that were viewed as having greater risks,” says Anthony Reimer, president of Lakeview. “Consequently, [insurance] providers for agribusiness started to severely limit or even terminate their policies.”

Lakeview ran contrary to this trend. Instead, it opted to take on those endangered policies, with its steadfast commitment making it the provider of choice for the region’s agribusiness community. “We’ve been in this business for a long time—we know how agribusiness works,” says Reimer, whose parents founded Lakeview in 1983. “So instead of panicking and withdrawing from the field, we were able to write policies that expertly balance risk to the benefit of our clients.”

Key to Lakeview’s success is a simple yet effective approach to doing business: it listens to its clients. “We make it a point to go out to the farm and hear what the farmer has to say,” Reimer says. “They are the ones with firsthand knowledge about their insurance needs. It just isn’t feasible—or smart—to issue policies that don’t take into account each farmer’s concerns.”

By accurately assessing client needs, it is then possible to customize policies. This customization marks another foundation of Lakeview’s industry leadership. “No farm is the same,” Reimer says. “A dairy farm’s policy may need to focus upon its automated milking operations, while a hog farm may need greater coverage in the event of animal suffocation.”

In any situation, Lakeview is able to respond to the particular needs presented. In the event of a claim, the firm is able to respond promptly.

This individualized focus and adaptation to market shifts has proven itself in Lakeview’s other areas of insurance coverage as well. Take, for instance, its nonprofit business coverage. “It used to be that nonprofits such as churches had only a few insurance needs—coverage for the church building, for example,” Reimer says. “But issues like improper conduct by clergy or charity officials have made coverage more complicated. We’ve taken into consideration the altered climate for charities and, as a result, have made it possible for our policies to fully address these new insurance risks.”

Acquisition also figures prominently in terms of expansion. After acquiring several practices, Lakeview extended its reach into Saskatchewan. “These new locations have allowed us to extend our presence and become even more competitive in the insurance marketplace,” Reimer says.

While acquisition continues to be on the radar, according to Reimer, Lakeview’s focus on customer service will unquestionably remain vital to its expansion goals. “We will always take the time to work with our clients to create those policies that best meet their needs for effectively and timely coverage,” he says.