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INDUSTRY & MARKETS
Pandemic Anniversary l The Mutual Perspective
With John Taylor—President, Ontario Mutual Insurance Association
A
s we passed the first anniversary of the declaration of the Covid-19 pandemic, I heard many people say that, despite having shut down so much of our lives and pausing so many activities, time has moved along more quickly than we could have imagined. I certainly find myself thinking that. When all this started, having to wait out weeks, and then months, seemed like an infinite span. Yet here we are a year down the road wondering where that year went and already getting well into year two of pandemic times.

For me, as for many, this pandemic has blurred the lines between personal and organizational experience. In our often-sheltered part of the world, this type of crisis hasn’t taken place in our living organizational memory. Collectively, we’re living the ongoing change of how we think about things as individuals and as organizations… at the same time. In the past year, what I’ve learned is that it’s too soon to say what I’ve learned. Pandemic class is still in session.
In the past year, what I’ve learned is that it’s too soon to say what I’ve learned. Pandemic class is still in session.
Our Association recently celebrated its 139th anniversary. When I reported to our members at our annual meeting, I shared how humbling an experience the pandemic has been for all of us as insurers. Insurance is an essential service, but as organizations we’re incredibly fortunate. As an industry, we’re well-organized, well supervised and well-staffed. The degree to which our industry—including insurers, brokers, adjusters, contractors, partners—were able to move to alternate service for policyholders made me proud. From a personal standpoint, as the true scope of the pandemic emerged, I was grateful for the everyday heroes across Canada. Healthcare professionals were foremost among these, but we cannot forget the essential service workers, truck drivers, food processors and farmers—the people who had to keep going to work every day. They kept us going when so much was unknown about the virus. If insurers, and specifically mutual insurers, had some small part to play in this, so much the better. When I look back at discussions among our mutuals last year as we tried to figure out how to do some things for the first time and others in a brand-new way, I’m proud that we framed those discussions around three primary commitments:
  • Policyholders
  • Communities
  • Employees, Partners & Colleagues
These focus points went a long way towards shaping decisions that we could be proud of, even if we weren't sure how they were going to turn out. We know that the workplace, the marketplace and insurance itself is going to continue to change as we move forward. The changes we’ve made during the pandemic will help us as innovation escalates. We’ve proven we can do things even if we’re not 100% sure we’re ready to do them, and there’s a certain freedom in responding in new ways to deliver on our promises to policyholders. We have a responsibility to be prudent, sound and transparent in providing the safety net policyholders have counted on. In the case of our mutual insurers, that net has been there over 160 years. I cannot say for sure what the strategies will be looking forward, but I sincerely believe policyholders and people will remain at the core of any strategy. This year our Association Chair, John Stirk, declared our theme Still Standing for a Reason—one of the very best reasons being the contribution to the success of families, businesses and communities. As mutuals, we’re proud to be part of this great industry and look forward to better times for everyone in 2021.
VOLUME 21 | ISSUE 1
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