Mid-sized private company X decides its Vice President of sales, who they had poached a year ago from another company, actually can’t sell anything to save his life. In only one year, he managed to foster a sales culture of secrecy, reporting over-optimistic forecasts to management while remaining vague on the reality of the marketplace. He also failed to recruit good sales talent, and instead directed the sales team to chase any opportunity without a second thought for a solid, competitive sales strategy. Management meets to discuss his poor performance. They contemplate whether or not to address their concerns with him. They decide not to, that it would be less disruptive all-around if they just fire him out of the blue.

Someone suggests that maybe they should get legal advice before doing so. After all, he makes a lot of money, is in a fairly high position, and they want to make sure they do this right. The rest of management decides against seeking legal advice because they worry it will just prolong the situation and rack up additional cost. Revenue has already suffered at the hands of the VP, and the sooner he can be removed from the scenario, the sooner they can start to reverse the cascading effect of diminishing sales that he has created. Besides, one of the CEO’s favourite pastimes is to watch legal dramas on TV, and he is pretty sure that the company can fire this guy “for cause” because they have a good reason for firing him: he sucks.

Under the auspices of having an emergency meeting to discuss a new business opportunity, the CEO and calls him to the boardroom where the management team is waiting. They advise him that they are unhappy with his performance and they are letting him go. He misrepresented his sales skills to them, and he takes too much vacation. They are therefore dismissing him for cause, and they are not going to pay him any severance. He can leave his laptop and blackberry on the table and they will send him the rest of his personal things.

Days later, they receive correspondence from the VP’s lawyer, advising them that the VP wants a year’s worth of salary as severance, all of his unpaid commissions, ongoing benefits for a year, as well as damages for the humiliating way that he was dismissed. Company X decides to ignore the letter.

It doesn’t take long for the company to get served with a statement of claim against them and various members of management seeking $250,000 as severance, unpaid commissions of $100,000, benefits, and punitive damages for humiliation and discrimination. The VP alleges that his “excessive vacation” were actually sick days used to treat a health problem, and that the company knew about his illness. He states that the company is guilty of discrimination by firing him due to that illness and were also in violation of human rights laws. Furthermore, the way the VP was fired was degrading and unnecessarily callous. He’s therefore entitled to damages for humiliation.

Company X reports the matter to its insurer. Coverage was confirmed under the employment practices liability section of the company’s D&O policy. A seasoned employment lawyer was retained by the insurer to represent the defendants. Counsel reviewed the case and immediately advised that severance should be paid in this case. Termination for cause in Canada is only appropriate where an employee is guilty of serious misconduct and has therefore repudiated the employment contract. This was not the case here.

Attempts to settle were made, and reasonable severance was offered to the VP. The matter wouldn’t settle though, as positions had already become entrenched, and the VP refused to reduce the amount claimed on the grounds of humiliation and discrimination. He wanted his day in court and to expose the treatment he had received by his former employer.

Finally, on the eve of trial, the matter settled for an all-inclusive payment of $260,000.00. Defense costs paid by the insurer were in excess of $160,000.00.

Lessons learned:

1) Dismissals for cause are extremely difficult in Canada, unless there is proof of serious employee misconduct. Legal advice should be sought before taking this approach.
2) Consulting a lawyer prior to dismissal can help an employer avoid making serious mistakes in position and in method of termination. This can save time and money in the long-run.
3) Wrongful dismissal litigation can be very expensive, especially once positions are entrenched. EPL coverage can help offset this “cost of doing business”.


The Trisura Story (part 2 of 2): Insurance Business sits downs with Mike George, Trisura’s CEO and co-founder, to discuss what it takes to start a successful insurance company and where the industry is headed in the years to come.

Pour les sous-titres en français, cliquez sur le bouton CC dans le lecteur vidéo




By Michael Campbell

Brace yourself for a shockingly outlandish statement.

A cyber breach can happen to any business, regardless of revenue or size.  Wait a minute. Let’s back up. Not only is that statement likely been written and spoken a thousand times this past year at conferences, seminars, in classrooms and meetings, but the most frequent, most popular articles published on insurance-based news websites, blogs, and social media feeds everywhere are about…what? The Big Bad Wolf of 2015 (and beyond), AKA Cyber Risk.

If the fire is already burning, why throw on more gasoline? Aside from the fact that this writing is published on a blog for an insurance company that sells a cyber breach product, statistics reveal that Canadian businesses still aren’t convinced they actually need cyber insurance.

A Canadian Underwriter article published on October 28th, 2015 indicates that 42% of Canadian businesses do not have cyber insurance coverage. However, 87% have experienced at least one hacking incident. What do the 42% think? An insurance product relating to cyber breaches logically fits under the category of “last resort”.  A solid chunk of businesses don’t want to think the consequences of a cyber breach are really that dire.

What’s holding Canadian businesses back?

The issue is that recent publications tend to focus on preventative tactics and statistics, rather than clear “next steps” following a breach. Let’s face the music. No amount of preventative measures can immunize a company against a cyber attack. Businesses need a prevention strategy as well as a post-attack strategy. Which brings us to the title and theme of this article. Have you ever eaten macaroni without the cheese sauce? Have you ever experienced a Canadian winter without snow? Ever seen a Steven Segal movie where he isn’t holding a gun on the cover? Still effective, but it’s just not the full package. In other words, you aren’t getting the best bang for your buck.

Employee education and keeping software updated are some essential methods in mitigating risk. However, they won’t hold up against the vigilance of a motivated hacker. The number 1 priority of a hacker is to manipulate and deceive. A good examples to prove it is this live feed from Norse Corporation.

Mesmerizing isn’t it? It’s also a bit terrifying. Those are live cyber attacks you’re seeing. If you didn’t realize the frequency and ferocity at which hackers operate, I hope the reality is more clear now.

Does this matter to Canadians?

The devil’s advocate will be quick to point out that few lines on this map appear to target Canada. As a Canadian, why bother with insurance coverage? It would be naive to think that this map detects 100% of attacks. Furthermore, our status as a world power is inherently tied to the United States. The U.S attracts the most hacker attention. Therefore, the only rebuttal needed is a statement of truth. It only takes one good attack to bring a multinational, multi-billion dollar corporation to its knees (read about the MyDoom virus, here).

Businesses neglect to purchase cyber insurance due in part to a mentality that “middle-class” status or having employees in a lower tax bracket makes them less of a target. Incorrect. Email phishing hackers target information, not income. If a business is exposed to a breach like a spear-phishing campaign, for example (accounts for 91% of successful attacks), the strength of defense is equally reliant upon the lowest-paid employee as the highest paid employee. Money doesn’t enter the equation until it’s already been stolen. The reverse scenario also applies. Small to medium sized businesses are at risk of becoming a target if they experience rapid financial growth. But once again, the target isn’t company funds. It’s company information.

Next Steps

Complete protection means taking out an insurance policy that covers the needs of a company’s unique risk. Even the most proactive victims still experience  difficulty when attempting to resolve issues on their own. When one hacking attempt is thwarted, another is just around the corner. For this reason, the value of outside consultancy cannot be understated. Policies often provide breach consulting services. Such services are absolutely essential in providing clear “next-steps” after a breach occurs. This feature is especially necessary if a company does not have a full-time IT security professional on staff.

No profession or business is immune to the efforts of hackers and fraudsters to steal private information. Even the best virus software and employee training is not a sure thing to prevent an attack. The only way to ensure that a business is adequately prepared for an incoming cyber breach is to combine defensive efforts with an insurance policy that will help mitigate loss.

If you take one thing away from this article, let it boil down to this. Don’t eat your macaroni without the cheese sauce. Combine defensive efforts with an insurance policy that will help mitigate loss.



Motivation. Acquisition. Disruption. Satisfaction. Creativity. Networking. Security. Trust. These were the words of the day at the 2015 Top Broker Summit.

Since 2011, Canadian Insurance Top Broker has hosted this all-day educational and networking event. The event has gained a reputation as one of the most valuable broker-focused functions in the industry. 2015’s edition did not disappoint. Taking place in downtown Toronto at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, this year’s summit was well attended by a variety of brokerages and insurance company representatives, including Trisura.

This gathering distinguishes itself from others in the industry because it’s exclusive to brokers, and features a compelling spectrum of speakers. This year, the speakers ranged from information-focused to stand-up-and-shout eccentric, as well as those that were little bit in between.

Trisura repeated as an insurance CEO panel Sponsor, with Mike George once again participating on the panel.

Discussion began with a focus on the recent influx of merger and acquisition activity, with the CEO panel varying in their views on value vs. danger. To summarize the opinions, M&A is a necessary aspect of growth, but is not the single driving factor. Mike make the bold declaration that Trisura has received their fair-share of offers, around 30 to be exact, each one rejected on the grounds of staying independent, highly specialized, and preserving our unique culture. Then there’s the small matter of the asking price- a cool billion dollars (or two).


Tackling the issue of “disruptors”, Mike acknowledged that relationship industries, like insurance, are expensive and therefore vulnerable to low-cost disruptors. All the more reason to get the balance right between brokers and insurers.

Customer satisfaction and the treatment of clients was also a key topic for Mike and the panel. Mike made the point that the experience created for 20% of customers that provide 80% of your business should be exceptional, in other (familiar) words: a step above.

The line-up of speakers continued throughout the morning and into the afternoon, sharing insight on the importance in branding to have a singular message, and ways to subtly sell your brand via social media, without overtly making a sales-pitch.

Read up on creative director Chris Torbay

Follow Sean Beckingham on twitter.

Cyber Risk was on the menu during the lunch-and-learn session, followed by a research panel and Peer to Peer award presentations.

The day finished the way it began, with a motivational speaker. David Horsager presented his 8 pillar methodology of establishing trust, (Clarity, compassion, character, competence, commitment, connection, contribution, consistency) warning those in attendance that the biggest expense an organization can have is lack of trust.

David Horsager on his 8 Pillars of Trust.

To find out more about the presenters, you can follow the above and below links.

Motivational speaker Mike Lipkin.

Serge Solki from watsec cyber risk management.

A special thanks to our broker partners who sat with Trisura at our table, and to the good people at CI Top Broker for hosting and organizing the event.