2021: Dichotomy

While the aforementioned “dichotomy” is not a word that Scott Donald, President and CEO, Western Surety Company (“WSC”) utilizes on a daily basis, he believes it sums up his traditional year-end E-zine commentary. “While Canada is in the early stages of another COVID wave – the fifth – and approaching two full years of the pandemic, the frustration experienced on humanity and personal levels are in direct contrast to the incredibly satisfying financial results in 2021 for WSC”, said Donald. “With the reasonably safe prediction of avoiding a major claim in the next few weeks, I am happy to advise that the bottom-line of Western Surety will be one of, if not the best, in our 112 year history.”

On a national basis, the surety industry will report a very good year of results including a diminished loss ratio and a significant increase in overall premium from 2020. While Western Surety will be one of the few mainstream companies not to realize an increase in premium in 2021, a formal claims loss ratio of a high single or low double digit ratio will be achieved. In regards to claims, Western Surety has adapted to the industry’s demands for enhanced surety responsiveness. Donald states “The times have changed and the expectations of ‘now’ are entrenched in our industry. As such, we have revamped our claims department and as noted in previous Ezines, we have a new Chief Claims Manager – James Toothill, and a Manager, Construction Projects and Solutions – Connor Chow. In early 2022, we will also announce the appointment of a new in-house legal counsel for claims management.”

History will also indicate that Western Surety realized the departure of several important personalities in 2021. The first quarter saw the retirement of Steve Myrer, Assistant Vice President in Halifax after a 20 year WSC career and Paul Bourassa, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer, will be retiring at the end of 2021 after 34 years at WSC. Relative to the Western Surety Board of Directors, the fall passing of Bruce Cowie, a long-time Hill family associate and 40 year Director was very disheartening, and finally, after a total of 62 years of association with WSC – including a 20 year stint as President and CEO and 47 years as a Director – Leo Ell retired in June.

“The biggest challenge in our industry is the supply and demand for quality surety personnel” notes Donald. “Despite the hiring frustrations, we managed to hire two quality individuals with plenty of experience to bolster our underwriting team. Both working remotely in their ‘home office’, Dan Park (Saskatoon) joined us in February and Dean Wade (Vancouver) in October. We couldn’t be happier with their contributions to date!”

Donald looks toward 2022 with cautious optimism for WSC as the surety industry continues to benefit from the continuation of infrastructure spending by all levels of government. “We understand that this increased spending cannot continue into perpetuity, and at some point, activity in the construction industry will begin to cool down,” surmises Donald. “That said, over the lengthy history of WSC we have been able to navigate the numerous and volatile economic swings and we continue to remain well-poised to manage the same issues going forward.”

On behalf of the entire WSC staff and ownership, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Scott Donald
President and CEO

Christmas Charity Donation

Continuing our tradition of having our employees enter into a draw for the right to select Western Surety’s annual Christmas charity donation, Wes Benson, Halifax Branch Office, chose the Parker Street Food Bank in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We are very pleased to support this very worthwhile charity.

Christmas Holiday Schedule

Our Regina (including remote), Toronto, and Halifax offices Holiday Schedule is as follows:

Friday, December 24th – CLOSING AT NOON (local time)
Monday, December 27th – CLOSED
Tuesday, December 28th – CLOSED
Friday, December 31st – CLOSING AT 3:00 PM (local time)
Monday, January 3rd – CLOSED

 

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