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How can the Canadian Insurance Industry gain operational advantage

Questionable methods of managing translation services

I wanted to first apologize for the delay in posting new blogs.  It has been a hectic ending for 2012 and equally fast paced start for 2013. Now that we are done with the apology, let’s get to the subject at hand, and I hope I can address this fairly and with no bias of any sort.
I hesitated for long time to write this blog, I have wanted for long time to address the topic of the Canadian Insurance sector and some of what I consider business inefficiencies.  Why? You might think…I was hesitant, it was out respect to many of my friends and colleagues who are currently working or have worked in the insurance industry (A) and although I have good intentions, I indeed didn’t want to offend anyone, or be the cause of any negative feelings on the part of someone who might read this article and feel offended (Certainly not my intentions). So whether you agree or not of what just about to read, it’s my personal opinion.

The problem: in a world where the economy is flat at best, and every company in the world is trying to reduce expenses to reduce product and services cost and enhance their EBITDA the Canadian Insurance sector seems to live in a bubble protected from the economic turbulence and bad elements. This is how it goes:  Admin Cost + Claims + Profit = Premium. I believe it’s the only industry in the world who is allowed by legislation to pass on the cost of inefficiencies to you the policy holder. Some might say this is not true my insurance company care about cost savings: Yes in some cases this true, however this is not true if your company’s total sale 28.3 Billion and your net profit before income tax is 2.066 Billion. Why would even consider at 10 Million dollar project, and trust me for that size company you would have many 10 Million projects to look into changing the way business is conducted and save cost (Generally many inefficient small projects goes undetected and under the radar sort of speak). But here is even the biggest issue, cost savings in the general terms in any industry means the following: If I save 3 dollars it would be split in the following way: 1 dollar for the client (price reduction), 1- dollar for the shareholders, and  1 dollar for employees. We all saw price reduction in variety of consumable products and services over the past few years. The big questions, for all of us Canadian/US or globally for that matter, when was the last time we saw a premium drop in our insurance policy rates? I venture to say, none, or when we die.

Now that I described the problem, there are many insurance companies in Canada with 
significant size translation departments still internally, the business question, is it core to their business the quick answer in my opinion should be no. Why you ask, in this world we live in, we come to quickly understand and believe that in order for a company to do well the said company will need to define what business they are in, and the insurance industry has that defined already: Insure people and property against the unknown. As a side note and as I type this statement I am reminded of my days when I was an Actuarial Analyst for one of the insurance companies here. If my memory serves me correctly only one Insurance company who decided to get out of the business of translation and pass that project on to a Canadian translation company, they indeed outsourced, the people, the process and the tools. So why many Canadian insurance companies are still hanging on to their internal translation team’s one would wonder? Every time this question comes up I immediately point to 2 areas, (A) a lack of attention at the C level and (B) Excellent propaganda approach by the manager of the translation department, here is common phrases you will hear at the water cooler in the hallways:

  •    No one can do it better than us
  • If If we send this project to the outside we will lose our clients because the quality will be inadequate.
  • And the big one: Translation in house is cheaper than sending the project outside.

In this day and age I can’t believe I am still hearing this, I am sorry, but have we not had enough examples where this is being done today with maximum return on investment being realized? Yes we have, but why there is not enough argument at the C level of these prominent Canadian insurance institutions, to say, we are outsourcing translation departments “lock stock and barrel”? I think the cash fat, insulated from economic downturns industry is too fat to be nimble and move on these projects.  I think with the right logical heads this issue will become priority and I’m hopeful that in 2013 the Canadian insurance industry will trust all their linguistic and translation needs to the Canadian Translation industry.
As a point of interest, I have summarized here the insurance companies in Canada:
·         Allstate Insurance Company of Canada Canadian subsidiary of US parent company.
·         Assumption Life based in Moncton, NB, Assumption Mutual Life Insurance Company, doing business under the name Assumption Life, offers: life insurance, critical illness insurance, financial services and investment solutions, commercial and individual mortgage loans, group benefit plans, individual pension plans and more. This mutual life insurance company have been in business since 1903 and is recognized as one of the top places to work for in Atlantic Canada.
·         Aviva Canada Aviva Canada is the second largest Property & Casualty Insurer in Canada with a market share of 8.7% and Gross Written Premium (GWP) of $3.155B
·         BMO Insurance Part of BMO Financial Group.
·         The Co-operators: Largest Canadian-owned insurance business in Canada.
·         National Bank Insurance National Bank General Insurance is a Property & Casualty insurance firm that provides automobile and home insurance services directly to Quebec residents under the National Bank Insurance banner.
·         Desjardins Group Desjardins Financial Security Life Assurance Company is the life and health insurance arm of Desjardins Group.
·         Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company The Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company, commonly shortened to The Dominion, has been in operation since 1887. It was founded by Canada’s first Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald. Not only is it one of Canada’s oldest insurance companies, it is also one of the largest. It is the only company legally licenced to use the Canadian coat of arms in its logo and affiliated material. The company has offices across Canada and is headquartered in Toronto.
·         The Economical Insurance Group
·         Empire Life The Empire Life Insurance Company (Empire Life) offers a full range of financial products and services – including personal life insurance, critical illness coverage, investment options, group life and health benefits and group RSP plans. Head Office is located in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
·         Equitable Life of Canada
·         FaithLife Financial
·         Federated Insurance Company of Canada Niche insurer specializing in property and casualty insurance for contractors, auto dealers, and equipment dealers.
·         Great American Insurance Company Niche property casualty insurer specializing in Inland Marine, Property, Employment Practices Liability and other products.
·         The Guarantee Company of North America Specializes in Government Procurement Insurance Products – Largest and Oldest Independent Canadian Owned Insurance Company been around since the 1800s with current ownership based in Montreal, Quebec. Controls the lion’s share of insurance products procured through governmental business activities.
·         The Great-West Life Assurance Company is a life and health insurance company and was founded in 1891 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Great-West Life is currently owned by Great-West Lifeco, which is itself a joint-stock corporation traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX:GWO). Great-West Lifeco also owns the London Life Insurance Company, the Canada Life Assurance Company, and Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company and is the largest insurance provider in Canada. The majority owner of Great-West Lifeco is the Power Corporation of Canada who administer Great-West through the Power Financial Corporation.
·         Independent Order of Foresters
·         Industrial Alliance
·         Insurance Corporation of British Columbia
·         Intact Insurance Company of Canada is the largest Property and Casualty insurer in Canada. Purchased AXA’s Canadian Business in June 2011
·         Knights of Columbus
·         belairdirect (Belair Insurance Company Inc.) providing complete car and home insurance solutions direct to the consumer in Quebec and Ontario.
·         Manulife Financial (Manufacturers Life Insurance Company) is a major Canadian insurance company and financial services provider. Although its global head office is located in Toronto, Ontario, Manulife has worldwide operations, most notably in the United States (through its subsidiary, John Hancock Insurance) and in 19 unique Asian countries and territories. Manulife Financial is the largest insurance company in Canada, the second largest in North America and the world’s fifth largest, based on market capitalization.
·         Medipac Travel Insurance is the largest direct writer of Travel Insurance for Canadians that live the Snowbird (people) lifestyle. Medipac is partnered with Manulife Financial to provide insurance benefits and endorsed by the Canadian Snowbird Association and the Royal Canadian Legion.
·         Blue Cross
·         Missisquoi Insurance Company The Missisquoi Insurance Company is the oldest Canadian owned property and casualty insurance company, having been established in 1835 in the Eastern Townships region of Quebec. It is now part of The Economical Insurance Group.
·         National Life
·         RBC Insurance
·         Red River Mutual – operates in Manitoba & Saskatchewan, headquartered in Altona Manitoba
·         SSQ Financial Group
·         Standard Life is a major employer in Edinburgh, with 8,500 UK employees and over 12,000 worldwide. Standard Life plc acts as a holding company for the areas within Standard Life. Since demutualisation, the company structure is quite complex. Standard Life has in excess of seven million customers worldwide, with five million in the UK. Of these, 2.6 million are with profits members of the mutual.
·         State Farm
·         Sun Life Financial is a leading financial services organization in Canada known primarily as a life insurance company. Today, the company manages assets in excess of $350 billion and has more than 13,000 people on its payroll plus thousands of independent agents worldwide.
·         TD Meloche Monnex – part of TD Canada Trust
·         The Personal Insurance Company (The Personal) is a property and casualty (P&C) group insurance company that specializes in home insurance and auto insurance (formerly CIBC Insurance).
·         Transamerica Life Canada
·         Unity Life – formerly Toronto Mutual
·         Wawanesa Insurance
·         The Mutual Fire Insurance Company of British Columbia
Until next time…I hope you enjoyed this article and the funny pictures
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