100 Years with Tanner Insurance

With Steven Tanner, President, Tanner Insurance

Tanner Insurance was founded in 1922. From their first location in Vars, Ontario, they’ve enjoyed steady growth and have become recognized as one of the leading insurance brokerages in Eastern Ontario. This year also marks their 50th anniversary as an IBAO Member.

How is the brokerage celebrating? Are you doing any charitable initiatives? 

We had the chance to throw a summer party, and promote and celebrate through merchandise. We’re also extremely fortunate to have the ability to contribute to our community. Some of the local organizations that we have been able to donate to are a local women’s shelter, Freedom Dog Rescue and the Ottawa Heart Institute. We’re pleased to say that many of our charitable initiatives are in collaboration with the staff including the Ottawa Food Bank and Smiles for Seniors, which is a Christmas program that we’ve taken part in for many years.

How has the brokerage evolved over the years?

Over the years, there have been significant changes to our office. We were once an office in Vars, a small town just outside of Ottawa. We started with five people—the majority being Tanners— and have grown into our head office in Ottawa with approximately 50 employees. We’ve made efforts to diversify our product line which has grown to include a sister company, Portside Marine Insurance which specializes in Marine Insurance throughout Canada. A significant increase in the depth of management has been a change that has happened steadily over the years. Tanner Insurance went from a rural-based office to an urban office with staff from all over Canada. 

What’s your brokerage’s greatest achievement? 

One of the greatest struggles in any business is the succession between generations and I’m very proud to say that Tanner Insurance has successfully transitioned the business between three generations. What once started out as a small business established by my grandfather, Allan Tanner, was then taken over by my father, Donald Tanner and my brother, Bud Tanner. My brothers and I had the opportunity to take on the challenge of successfully operating Tanner Insurance together and I’ve continued to have success with it on my own. Now my daughters are the fourth generation of Tanners working at the company. 

Reaching the 100-year milestone is very surreal. It is hard to comprehend that number, but to put it into perspective, the business was created before the great depression. I’m very proud to reach such a major milestone, but also very humbled as I look back on the efforts put in by so many people to get here. It motivates me to continue to build.

What’s the most interesting fact about your brokerage? 

Our valued and dedicated controller Denise has worked for all four generations of Tanners and obviously has worked here longer than me. 

Running a business with that kind of history—what’s your assessment of the current state of the broker channel? 

When I first got into the business in the 90s everyone said that the channel was doomed because the banks were going to take over insurance. My father explained that the same discussions took place in the late 60s and early 70s when direct writers came into the picture. Yet we’re still here and the channel is still thriving and relevant. There’ll be changes over the years, there’s no doubt about that. But I believe the channel is very resilient and though we’ll have challenges, the future is bright. Many things have changed in the industry since I started, but as long as we adapt, I believe the broker channel will continue to thrive and be successful.

The Secret to Tanner Insurance’s Success 

  • Creating a safe and respectful work environment
  • Remaining resilient against adversity
  • Having a solid foundation 
  • Cultivating a dedicated staff
  • Staying true to our vision for the company and using it to move forward
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