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GK subsidiary Canopy Insurance grows market share

Health and life insurance provider Canopy Insurance Limited, despite being in existence for just 20 months, is making inroads in territory previously dominated by a major player.

The nascent insurance provider — registered with the Financial Services Commission — has discovered fertile hunting ground in the business processing outsourcing (BPO) sector, which employs thousands of Jamaicans and comprises over 30 companies.

A little over a year after Don Wehby, group CEO and chairman of GraceKennedy (GK) Group, announced the joint venture between GK and the Musson Group to enter the group health and life insurance segment and form Canopy, he has signalled his company’s confidence in its investment.

GraceKennedy Group CEO, Don Wehby
(Photo: Caribbean Business Report/Chris Lewinson)

“Canopy has been particularly successful in the BPO industry,” he told Caribbean Business Report, though not providing specific numbers.

“Working closely in conjunction with Billy Craig Insurance Brokers, the company currently underwrites a special health plan for the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ), which includes some of Jamaica’s best known BPO’s,” he added.

Bill Craig Insurance Brokers Limited in Montego Bay, Jamaica (Photo: Jamaica Observer)

In particular, Wehby said Canopy serves some of the country’s largest BPOs with standalone plans — 16 BPOs in all.

As at September 30, 2020, the life and health insurance sector held aggregate total assets to JM$360.8 billion, registering an increase of 6.5 per cent over the previous.

David vs Goliath?

By comparison to Sagicor Life Jamaica, Canopy Insurance Limited can be considered a minnow with the former currently. However, since its inception Canopy has been gnawing at Sagicor’s share of the pie by persuading many local companies to switch insurance provider.

Canopy was created to provide health and life products for the mammoth GraceKennedy Group, where managers expressed dissatisfaction with existing offerings.

The company now offers all group-related insurance products currently available in the Jamaican marketplace. Canopy’s main product is group health, which is its largest segment, followed by group life and accidental death and dismemberment. It also offers personal accident, critical illness, and creditor life products.

On a growth path

According to Steven Whittingham, COO of GK Financial Group, which has direct responsibility for the group’s insurance, “GraceKennedy’s foray into health and life insurance, and the continued growth of our local and regional broking, property and casualty insurance companies have resulted in a 41 per cent increase in revenue over the last year for our insurance division.”

He made the comment in March this year.

Though Wehby said the new insurance company’s success in the BPO sector is noteworthy, he noted, “Naturally, in Canopy’s early days there were clients who were hesitant to try out a new company, and who preferred to take a ‘wait and see’ approach. Of course, it helped that between its two shareholders — GraceKennedy and the Musson Group — Canopy started out with over 6,000 members. This seed group allowed Canopy to demonstrate what it was capable of to the market from its outset.”

Moreover, Canopy has built strong relationships within the broker community in Jamaica.

“Canopy has also been fortunate that several bold, forward-thinking Human Resource teams at top companies bought into its mission and vision early. These early wins built trust between Canopy and the marketplace. When you consistently deliver a great product at a high standard, word spreads. There is no marketing more powerful than a happy client,” Wehby pointed out.

Today, largely due to referrals by brokers and existing clients, Canopy has just under 40,000 covered members, and over 115 corporate clients, including some of Jamaica’s largest blue-chip companies. 

“Perhaps more meaningful than Canopy’s sheer growth is that fact that upon renewal, 99 per cent of its members are being retained; this is the best evidence that Canopy’s clients are happy with its offerings, Wehby told Caribbean Business Report.

The group CEO outlined that over the last 20 months, Canopy has seen continued increase in market share during this period. He also expressed satisfaction with the feedback from the insurance company’s clientele based on market surveys, noting that he expects to see the growth trend continue in the future.