How Corey Evans created an old fashioned insurance brokerage with a modern outlook

Corey Evans, CEO of Independent Insurance Managers Inc, has had the insurance industry in his blood all his life. Indeed, as a third-generation broker even before his school days he knew the career he wanted to follow.

“I was the one kid at school who knew exactly what he wanted to do,” Corey laughs. “I knew I wanted to get into insurance. Mind you, I thought there was a lot more golf involved.

The importance of internship

Corey’s career in the industry began as a summer student, working at the top insurance companies in Canada while attending university. This allowed him to gain invaluable carrier experience and make the right connections in the sector.

“Just when all my friends were cutting grass during the summer, I was sitting in an air-conditioned office getting paid a good wage for a summer student,” he says.

Post university, Corey embarked on a full-time personal lines underwriting job at a prominent insurance company after graduating: “I worked hard for big insurance companies here in Canada before eventually transitioning into the brokerage side of the industry in 2017.”

This was a pivotal moment in his career following the retirement of his father’s business partner. It created an opportunity for Corey to fill the gap and take over a portfolio at the family brokerage: “We just had our first child and I was on an executive fast track to be an executive leader. But there was an opportunity for me to come in and fill in that gap.”

Corey was able to take the knowledge and the insight he’d gained over the years on the carrier side and start educating clients in other areas of insurance.

“I always liked dealing business to business, so I focused on commercial lines. I thought that the opportunity for the broker as a risk advisor versus just a transactional salesperson was more on the boutique commercial side and, specifically, middle market commercial.”

Middle market niche focused

This middle market niche is where Corey has firmly aligned his boutique business model, building on close customer relationships

The company prides itself on providing an intimate experience for its clients, with Corey himself serving as both the owner and broker.

This unique setup ensures that clients receive personalised attention and have a direct line of communication with the equity partner of the firm.

Corey believes these customer relationships are at the heart of the success of the business: “We keep to those old-fashioned values of customer service and strong relationships. One hundred per cent.”

“The insurance industry is one of the biggest relationship-based industries in the world. Especially in the commercial middle market where customers are not ready to buy from a robo advisor or a digital advisor or online.”

Corey defines boutique as having full, independent ownership: “Independence is huge for us. So I think a prerequisite to being boutique is being independent. I don’t know how you provide a boutique experience if you have outside ownership or equity from something like an insurance company.

“The boutique brokerage is always putting the client first instead of the brokerage. And that’s the best need for the client. Because we think everything else will pay dividends in the long run.”

Primary business focus

Corey’s brokerage has two key sectors for its primary focus: commercial real estate and the supply chain industry. In the commercial real estate space Corey’s team serves clients with large portfolios, whether they are individuals or corporations. By providing expertise in this specialised area, Corey’s brokerage has become a trusted advisor to real estate clients.

In the supply chain industry, Corey’s team specialises in working with manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors. They understand the unique risks and challenges faced by businesses in this sector and offer tailored insurance solutions to mitigate those risks. Whether it’s product liability insurance for wholesalers or fleet insurance for businesses with large automobile fleets, Corey’s brokerage has the expertise to provide comprehensive coverage.

Cyber Security: a top risk for business owners

Another emerging sector for Corey’s focus has been cyber security insurance. With the rise of cybercrime and data breaches, he recognises the importance of educating clients about the risks they face and the need for adequate coverage. Many businesses are unaware of their cyber exposure until they experience a breach, which can have devastating consequences. Corey’s team works closely with clients to develop incident response plans and ensure that they have the necessary coverage in place to mitigate the financial and reputational damage caused by cyberattacks.

“Cyber risk and social engineering are really emerging now as key areas for insurance and cybercrime is one of the biggest trends that we’re seeing,” he says. “A lot of people don’t know they have an exposure until they have an event such as a data breach. These events can be really catastrophic for businesses.

“So cyber is part of what we offer clients today – and it’s about educating them on the latest issues that can have a huge impact on their business.”

Corey believes that a proactive approach to cybersecurity insurance is a necessity for businesses of all sizes. The brokerage doesn’t just offer policies; it provides comprehensive risk management strategies tailored to the unique challenges posed by digital technology generally.

One of Corey’s key initiatives is the education of clients about the importance of cybersecurity insurance: “For me an informed client is an empowered client, capable of making decisions that contribute to the overall resilience of their business.

“Our team takes the time to demystify the complexities of cybersecurity, ensuring clients understand the risks they face and the tailored solutions available to mitigate those risks effectively.”

Furthermore, Corey’s doesn’t believe in one-size-fits-all solutions, especially when it comes to cybersecurity insurance. Recognising that each business has unique vulnerabilities, his team conducts thorough risk assessments to identify potential weak points in a client’s digital infrastructure. This personalised approach allows Corey to recommend and implement insurance solutions that address the specific cyber risks faced by each client.

The culture of the brokerage

Independent Insurance Managers prides itself on its modern yet traditional culture. The team comprises young professionals who bring a fresh perspective to the industry, but who also have years of experience under their belts.

“It’s modern but traditional. We’re a modern, traditional brokerage in the sense that we’ve all been involved in the insurance industry for an extended period. Like, our combined insurance experience between the eight of us is over 100 years, because we’ve all been working in the industry. But the average age of the brokerage is something like 37 years old.

“So young but old basically.”

Out of the office

When Corey is not in the office with colleagues or out meeting and educating clients, he’s generally at home with his wife and two children “two potential insurance brokers of the future”, he laughs. “They’ll be quoting by next week. If they want to keep buying all this new Nintendo or whatever it is that they’re buying these days, they need to have some income for that.”

“I also have a Labradoodle, which is my worst behaved of all three children, but also the one that speaks back the least.”

Corey admits he’s a big foodie and enjoys cooking up recipes with his wife and throwing dinner parties for his friends and family.

Elsewhere, he plays the obligatory golf, a prerequisite for a successful insurance broker, and enjoys skiing and tobogganing.

“I do love to play golf and I incorporate it into my work and life. But having the brokerage, a young family, and just being our age, we’re constantly busy. So I don’t get a lot of free time.”

Above all, Corey loves his job and his business: “I guess I love what I do. I love growing this brokerage. So a lot of my free time is spent just working on the business.”