Vice President, Head of Information Technology at HSB Canada
Founded in 1875, HSB Canada started life at a time when pressure boilers were the primary engine powering equipment and machinery in industry across Canada. The technology was relatively new and explosions were quite common, until companies like HSB Canada started deploying engineers to routinely inspect this prone equipment.
Today, the Toronto-headquartered business provides inspection, risk management and IoT technology services, as well as insuring a number of specialty lines, including equipment breakdown cover and cyber insurance. Since 2009, HSB has been a part of the Munich Re Group, giving it access to a wider pool of expertise – and the company acknowledges that its talent sets it apart.
“The people here are one of our biggest differentiators,” proclaims Mike Scarbeau, Vice President Information Technology at HSB Canada. “We have a lot of fantastic subject matter experts who are, I would say, the de facto experts in Canada, particularly on the inspection and engineering side.”
Becoming part of Munich Re 15 years ago – the latest chapter in a long and storied history for the business – has only helped to accentuate that. “You certainly feel you're part of a bigger group that has some amazing talent across the globe,” adds Scarbeau, who has been with the business for just over a year and a half. Before joining HSB Canada, Scarbeau spent over 20 years in IT roles across the financial services industry, and says he was attracted to the technology-driven focus that exists throughout the organisation.
HSB Canada eyeing ‘dominant’ position in cyber insurance
When we catch up with Mike Scarbeau from his office at HSB Canada’s headquarters in downtown Toronto, he is joined from a neighbouring office – the other side of a frosted pane of glass – by Vice President Client Solutions and Innovation, Lasith Lansakara.
He heads up HSB Canada’s innovation portfolio and comes from a background in management consulting, having spent a decade heading up the commercial insurance practice at the Canadian office of Deloitte – the global management consulting business. There, he regularly benchmarked insurers like HSB Canada against the rest of the industry – and indeed the rest of the world – so he has a thought or two on where his current employer sits along the transformation arc.
“I think the Canadian market is probably behind the curve a bit,” Lansakara tells us. “If you think of things like digital quote and bind rate comparators that are available, the UK certainly leads the pack. The US, I’d say, is not there but definitely catching up. I think Canada is gradually moving there.”
However, for HSB Canada, he believes it’s simply a case of staying the course. “We are going to continue monitoring the shift in risk landscape and look to strengthen our offering in the space. We intend to be a dominant player in the cyber insurance space.
“We are also going to continue evaluating traditional risk products and see how we could better take advantage of some of this IoT technology, if there are opportunities to embed some of it in insurance offerings so data received becomes part of the underwriting process or part of the coverage solution.”
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