Championing Women Every Day

Championing Women Every Day

By Sara Ametrano


The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is Choose to Challenge. We are seeing strides in the workforce; we are more diverse than ever, but we must continue to challenge and shape the future.

Trisura’s staff is 52% women strong, with several being influential members of Trisura’s leadership team. Women are difference-makers, and we stand by their personal and professional growth, as well as support their important initiatives.

We all know that the pandemic has posed unique challenges, including forcing companies and individuals to adapt to a new business landscape. Our team acted quickly towards navigating operations remotely and were there to assist our broker partners with any concerns they had. In fact, one of our very own underwriters, Emily Thompson, was the recipient of the 2020 Underwriter of the Year award from Insurance Business Canada, a reflection of her efforts to quickly streamline business and find solutions during the pandemic.

One of the people behind the faces of Trisura is our senior vice-president of Human Resources, Cindy Grant. Cindy works to ensure every element of the organization is a step above, from bringing top talent on board to managing Trisura’s philanthropic initiatives. An accomplished individual with a colourful career in the financial services sector, Cindy is an inspirational leader and her door is always open to everyone, whether it’s a work-related matter or simply to catch up.

“I am passionate about celebrating women in business and building inclusive workplaces where women thrive,” Cindy says. “Choose to challenge yourself–to learn, to grow, to teach.”

Women are an integral part of the workforce, and we honour them today and continue to be inspired by their drive and dedication.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Woman Up!

Woman Up!

By Sara Ametrano

Every year on March 8th, countries all over the world celebrate International Women’s Day. It’s a day to recognize women’s personal and professional achievements as well as the daily challenges they face. The event’s theme this year is #EachforEqual.

Marilyn vanGansewinkel, vice-president, specialty insurance solutions, Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company“I look at the team we have [at Trisura] and am proud of the diversity of the team and the skillset that they bring to the table,” Marilyn vanGansewinkel, Trisura’s senior vice president of specialty insurance solutions, says. Over her 23-year career in the specialty insurance industry, Marilyn has seen a great deal of change. She began as an underwriting assistant, and at that time, nearly all administrative/assistant positions belonged to women.

Today, the industry has considerably changed, with women holding many senior positions at insurance companies and brokerages alike. Hiring a candidate has transitioned from the gender associated with a specific job to focusing more on the qualifications of the individual applying. The opportunities in the workforce continue to grow, and Marilyn is excited to see how women will seize them. “While hiring people, I am continually impressed with how driven women are now. They know what they want and where they want to go.”

Women have a critical role in their own success and the success of their peers. In fact, there are certain advantages that come with being a woman. “Women are excellent at being empathetic,” she explains. “This makes them good at listening to any challenges the person that they are talking to might be dealing with.”

Marilyn firmly believes it is important to surround oneself with influential and dynamic people – and there’s no shortage of this in the insurance industry. In fact, the people she crosses paths with while working is one of the things she likes most about the industry. Along with hard work, she credits several female and male colleagues and managers she’s worked with over the course of her career with helping her get to where she is now. She believes that she was given opportunities throughout her career to move into more challenging roles as they presented themselves.

Speaking from her own personal experience, Marilyn acknowledges that although being a mother while working can appear daunting, it’s all about finding the right balance. “Be present wherever you are, whether it’s at work or at home,” she advises.

Trisura’s President & CEO, Chris Sekine, has known Marilyn for over two decades. He applauds her support of those around her and is excited to see the impact women will continue to have in the workforce:

I have known Marilyn for well over 20 years, and as one the original Trisura employees from 2006, her leadership qualities and character are an integral part of Trisura’s DNA today. She is and has always been a tremendous mentor to many of our employees, both women and men. In addition to Marilyn, Trisura has been fortunate to attract many empowered and strong women into senior leadership positions since our beginning. Janet Mascitelli, who is now retired, ran our surety business in Toronto and Donna Anderson started our surety business in the Prairies. Rebekah Alberga, is our General Counsel and started our claims team in Toronto. The list goes on, and it also includes Cindy Grant, our Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Pina Mazzoli our Senior Vice President of Digital Distribution and Marketing.


As a father of two daughters nearing the start of their own careers, empowering women is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Our next generation of leaders have to be comprised of more women—our daughters. The more women we can inspire to be leaders, the greater the talent pool that organizations can draw from will be, which will bring diversity in thinking and formulation of strategy. Organizations that can effectively empower women will have a great strategic advantage.

From the start of her career to now, Marilyn has seen women’s confidence flourish, and it’s one of the things she’s most proud of, saying, “Women know what they want, and now they go for it.” She encourages women to continue to seize the opportunities that come their way. “Be confident. Don’t be scared to ask for what you want–there’s nothing wrong with being ambitious. Rise up and deliver.”

Commercial surety market “performing well” in Canada

Commercial surety market “performing well” in Canada

This article was originally published by Insurance Business Canada on November 22nd, 2019.

Read the original article here.

Author: Bethan Moorcraft


Commercial surety is a broad group of bonds that are used to secure or guarantee a wide range of obligations between parties. These bonds are used in contractual agreements to guarantee that security and regulatory requirements are met in order to protect against financial risk.

In Canada, the commercial surety industry is “performing well and is growing,” according to Matt Baynton, senior vice president – surety, Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company. Why is the commercial surety market performing well in Canada? It’s partly due to the economy.

According to Bank of Canada data released in September, the Canadian economy remains resilient even as global outlook worsens. The bank announced that third-quarter economic performance was “stronger than anticipated,” with wages picking up and housing markets beginning to rebound. Overall, consumer spending was described as “soft” and business investment dropped off, but the bank described the economy as “operating close to its potential, or speed limit.”

Matt Baynton_IBC Interview“The main driver of the commercial surety market in Canada is government spending on infrastructure,” Baynton told Insurance Business. “The federal government promised a large amount of infrastructure spending in the previous election, but very little of this spending came to fruition.

“A strong economy should ultimately lead to more government spending, which is good for the surety industry. Conversely, if Canada were to head into a recession, there would likely be an uptick in corporate insolvencies which could lead to surety losses.”

Commercial surety bonds are used to guarantee performance of non-construction related contractual obligations. They differ from contract surety bonds that are used specifically within the construction industry. Typical users of commercial surety include government bodies, federal and/or provincial courts, financial institutions, and private corporations.

Unlike traditional insurance policies, commercial surety bonds are more akin to lines of financial credit that banks extend to clients. They’re tri-party agreements which require a unique underwriting skillset, Baynton explained.

“The underwrite is much more akin to a credit underwrite that a bank would do,” he said. “Ultimately we are trying to determine the financial survivability of an organization and where they will be able to meet the obligations that they are undertaking and that we are bonding.”

Once again, this observation links back to the state of the Canadian economy. If the economy is strong, the parties involved within a commercial surety bond are probably more likely to meet their obligations. They’re also more likely to consider bonds as an alternative financial risk transfer mechanism, hence the growth that Baynton has observed in the market.

He said: “I think more obligees are knowledgeable about bonds than in the past, and they’re more willing to accept bonds as an alternate form of security.”

The Do’s and Don’ts of Contractor Billing

The Do’s and Don’ts of Contractor Billing

By Victor Bandiera


Most Canadian Construction Association (CCA) and Canadian Construction Documents Committee (CCDC) contract forms and other public contract forms require contractors to apply for payment monthly. This is based on an agreed schedule of values, a breakdown for payment purposes or the quantity of work in place on unit price contracts. This breakdown is usually agreed upon before the first billing.

The contractor submits their request to the payment certifier (usually the architect or engineer of record) under the prime contract at month end. If the contractor is a subcontractor, they are usually required to submit an application for payment on the 25th of the respective month. This allows the prime contractor to include it in the billing at month end.

In the last 12 months, some contractors have not applied for payment due to some unforeseen issues. Some of the issues were:

  • The previous month’s payment was not certified;Contractor billing - Victor Bandiera article
  • There was a delay in processing or the payment was not made;
  • A lien arose, which led to adding additional change orders, in turn, causing delay or discrepancy in amounts or limited progress of work or deficiencies.

None of the reasons listed above should prevent a contractor from submitting a subsequent monthly payment application for certification.


What to include in your billing?

Your billing should clearly show the period being billed (for example, June 1, 2019 to June 30, 2019), the date the invoice was prepared and the relevant contract references, including the owner’s name. Also, don’t forget to include the current revised contract price calculation being the total of the original contract price, but showing any contingency or cash allowances separately, as well as all approved change orders (not just those being billed against).

Your billing usually should include columns for:

(A) The total contractual amount for the line item;

(B) A total to date against the line item in dollars, as well as a column for quantities of unit price or percentage complete to show progress;

(C) The total to date from previous month (in dollars and quantities if applicable);

(D) D = B – C: the difference being the current month’s progress.

Totals of each column transfer to a summary page and the application of holdback retained. If holdback is released, include a separate line. Naturally, the rate of applicable tax must be shown as a separate line and total of cheque expected from owner should also be provided.  If more than one month is outstanding prepare a statement of account showing all unpaid amounts at month end.

Time is of the essence

A payment certifier is to certify the work in place usually within 10 days of application for payment. If the contractor does not apply, the payment certifier does not need to do anything. A payment certifier has to fulfill his/her contractual and professional obligations as an unbiased party.

Contractor billing 2_Victor Bandiera articleHypothetically, if an owner fails to make a payment for a certificate of payment issued by a certifier due to a lien, this does not preclude a contractor from billing the subsequent month and the payment certifier from preparing another certificate. There can be more than one unpaid monthly payment certificate. Also, most contracts require the payment certifier to respond in writing to an application. If the payment certifier does not respond, please review what your contract says about notifying the owner in default for non-certification if permitted, and if necessary, discuss with your construction lawyer promptly, as you have lien rights that are time sensitive. If you are a subcontractor you might be able to make a Labour and Material payment bond posted, which also has timelines to make a claim.

It is always important to bill monthly, as that serves as an historical record of the contractor’s progress of work and of when change orders were added to increase scope, even if not performed. If a contractor does not bill, he or she will not know of any payment issues with the owner. Naturally, if the contractor is not promptly paid by the owner, the contractor needs to consider noting the owner in default for non-payment (as the owner usually needs to pay within seven to 10 days of certificate of payment, according to most contracts) but also interest will run. Keep in mind, the contractor probably does not want to work for more than a month and finance the work himself/herself, as that could lead to delays of payment and effect banking, bonding, subcontractor and other relationships.

If certification is delayed by others and it is suggested that the contractor group two months together, the actual progress for the first month is lost. It is usually a contract requirement to pay that month earlier as well.

In Ontario, this will be even more important with respect to recent changes to the Construction Act (formerly Construction Lien Act), including proper form of billing as it relates to new prompt payment provisions and adjudication, which could include payment disputes. Payment is one of the most important things on a project. The contractor or subcontractor must do the billing well and timely to avoid cash flow issues and disruptions further down the contractual chain.