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Let's Talk: Risks and resources in Canada

Risks and resources in Canada

What is AXA XL’s outlook for business growth in Canada?
We see a lot of potential growth in Canada. With a gross domestic product approaching $2 trillion, Canada is the world’s 10th largest economy, and it is one of the world’s largest insurance markets. Exceeded only by Russia in land area, Canada is a nation with an abundance of natural resources. Its modern economy is based largely on industries and services, and it has a well-developed financial sector, which means Canadian organizations have a very diverse set of risks to manage. AXA XL has an opportunity to bring more of our capabilities to Canadian customers and become one of the top commercial insurers in this market.

What lines of business is AXA XL focusing on?
AXA XL has a good market position already in Canada, and Canadian demand for specialty lines, including cyber, continues to increase. We see opportunities to leverage our global capabilities in serving both Canada-based customers as well as the Canadian subsidiaries of global companies. With a resource economy in oil, metal mining and forestry, there is an ongoing need for international solutions, which is a strength for us. Construction is another area of interest to us, and it can touch a lot of the coverage lines we write — property, liability, professional, environmental and specialty. It continues to be a growing sector and it keeps modern economies growing. In 2019, we anticipate that we will be working with customers in many areas, particularly on global programs, captives and alternative risk programs.

What are some of AXA XL’s distinguishing capabilities in Canada?
We are able to bring to Canada a tremendous suite of products, which has grown even further through the combination of XL Catlin and AXA Group. Our experience in many industrial sectors brings great value to Canadian customers. And our global capabilities, from underwriting to risk management to claims, are real strengths for us. A word that I think describes AXA XL’s global approach to claims is flexibility. We show a lot of flexibility in tailoring the claims process to our customers’ needs. Just as every claim is different, we believe that claims handling should be adaptable too. We have a high standard in delivering claims service, and it’s an area where do an excellent job. Another factor in our service is AXA XL’s resources. Canada is a really big country, even though the majority of the population is in cities. We can leverage our ability to apply additional resources as customers need them. For example, in the case of a catastrophe, we can draw resources from the global company to support our local team when they’re needed. That should be an important measure when customers are choosing insurance partners. We can help our customers get back on their feet throughout Canada faster than organizations with fewer resources.

As you look at the Canadian market, what insurance innovations do you see developing?
Innovation is a big part of what we do, and AXA as a group has enormous resources to apply to innovating products and services. For example, AXA is focused on the impact of climate change, so we are looking at ways to bring parametric solutions, among other things. Index-based insurance products are relatively new and still developing, but every day we are finding new ways to apply this concept to business challenges. In Canada, a variety of industries can get value from parametric solutions, including agriculture, energy, construction and transportation. Innovations such as parametrics can open doors for our customers to insure the risks they’ve always had, but in new ways. I’m excited about the opportunity to have an impact in the market and bring AXA XL’s capabilities to Canada.

Urs Uhlmann is CEO and Country Manager for Canada, where he leads the regional business strategy and overall insurance operations at AXA XL. He has extensive experience in commercial insurance and risk management for corporate customers operating in Canada. Before joining XL Catlin in 2018, he served as CEO, Global Corporate, for another global insurance company and held various executive roles in commercial markets strategy. He is based in Toronto, overseeing offices in Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver, and can be reached at

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AXA XL is the P&C and specialty risk division of AXA.