When CEO Mike George, backed by Brookfield Asset Management, began licensing a new property and casualty insurance company in 2005 with colleagues John Garner and Bob Taylor, he wanted a name that would represent his firm’s break from the norm. “At first glance, people think that most insurance companies are created equal, but that’s not the case,” says George, who has experience in finance and insurance reaching all the way back to the 1980s. “Our corporate mission is actually a step above: We believe in creating exceptional experiences for our stakeholders. We believe the business can be done better.”
The trio chose to call their company, which successfully launched in early 2006, Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company, with the “Tri” representing their philosophy of partnership between the company, its brokers, and their customers. Trisura takes pride in serving its broker network well through caring local management, exceptional service, and a solutions-oriented approach to the business at hand. Further, Trisura provides training and educational support and creates technological advantages for brokers, and that in turn leads to more satisfied clients.
with Mike George
Is there a technology, trend, or idea that’s driving your company forward?
I would say the trend of mobile data collection. I think there’s a huge opportunity to use mobile technologies to holistically track consumer behaviour in an “omnichannel” world.
How do you innovate on a day-to-day basis?
I’m constantly pushing everybody out of their comfort zone. If you can do that, you can solve problems in ways you never thought you could solve them.
How has the notion of innovation changed in the past decade?
Innovation today is about applying technology, whereas 10 years ago, it was developing technology.
What defines an innovative company in the 21st century?
It’s constantly changing, evolving, testing, and learning, but it can commercialize and have sound business models, and it’s making real money. My focus is the commercialization of innovation.
How can a company encourage innovation without breaking the bank?
We have an incredible environment here in Canada, where you can actually use your retained earnings and cash flow to trigger investments, tax credits, and funding to be able to put your people to work on innovative ideas.
“We’re definitely a broker-focused organization,” George says. “Some insurance companies view brokers as almost a necessary evil or choose to deal direct, but for us, nothing could be further from the truth. We think of our brokers as our primary customer, and we look after our customers.” In contract surety, for example, Trisura has recently delivered several significant service innovations aimed at making business more efficient for its brokers.
The company has also created a variety of unique products to serve clients, including a number of new commercial surety-bond offerings. And with security and privacy breaches on the rise, it’s specifically working on products designed to protect against cyber liability. It’s actually one of the few Canadian companies with products that provide a consumer-protection backstop for third-party warrantee administrators in the automotive, electronic, and appliance spaces. Additionally, the company is making technological and service enhancements, including a unique online portal solution that enables customers who are part of an association to get a quote, bind their insurance, and pay electronically—all in less than 10 minutes.
With an increasing number of international and domestic competitors vying for business in Canada, Trisura has to stay on its toes to maintain its edge. “Our marketplace is incredibly crowded,” George says. “It is absolutely critical for us to keep innovating in order for us to stay ahead, and if we slow down for a minute, we allow others to catch up.”
But fierce competition in products, services, and technology is only part of the story as, increasingly, insurance companies find themselves waging a war for talent. “When I started in insurance 26 years ago, almost no one selected insurance as their first-choice profession,” George says. “Today, we’re getting young people entering the field who are motivated, highly educated, and choosing insurance as a career path. We recognize that for us to be able to bring on the best and for them to choose Trisura, we have to innovate our education and training programs and even how people work.”
Trisura plans to continue its pattern of growth with a goal to go from $80 million a year to $200 million within the next five years. “We’re going to grow by continuing to add more products, broaden our appetite, be more efficient, and hire and retain the best people in the business,” George says.