Learning: Articulating the value of mutuality to a niche market

The companies

Cornish Mutual (UK) and Trillium (Canada) are both small, non-life insurers. They are similar in terms of revenue, number of employees, and both are focused on the agricultural insurance sector.

The challenge

The two companies shared a number of challenges relating specifically to their target market, the agricultural sector. Both companies were experiencing business impacts caused by the challenges facing the agricultural sector itself: consolidation, diversification and global trade agreement negotiations were all creating uncertainty for the members of the two companies. Both companies were interested in being able to more clearly articulate and bring to life the benefits of mutuality to their members. They also shared a number of operational challenges relating to their desire to better serve their members.

The response

Following an introduction by ICMIF, a Trillium executive visited Cornish Mutual. During the trip, the Trillium visitor spent time with Cornish Mutual’s senior management to discuss, in detail, a number of key strategic and operational issues:

  • bringing to life the advantages of mutuality;
  • delivering a customer experience that exceeds expectations;
  • accurate product pricing;
  • investing effectively in technology and talent.

He also spent time with one of the company’s agents, to witness first-hand their approach to delivering a frictionless customer experience.

This connection (as well as connections with other ICMIF member agricultural insurers from around the world) has helped Trillium to move its thinking towards investing more in risk management and loss prevention advice, in order to reinforce the mutual value proposition.

Trillium said: “It was refreshing to discuss mutual challenges and share our ideas and strategic responses to the threats and opportunities in a very safe and non-competitive environment. That common ground, that spirit of mutuality, allowed for an open, candid exchange.

“We had just introduced a strategy for building closer links with our members, and my visit validated that our vision was on the right track and that we could change our model to involve more stakeholders in assisting the member relationship. We also recognised that an increased and proactive investment in risk management represents a far better service to our members than the reactive service of paying claims.

“This visit marked the start of a relationship that will bring long-term, reciprocal benefits between our two companies.


“We have also listened to the experiences of other ICMIF members in emerging markets: these recently-established, innovative cooperatives and mutuals remind us of the higher purpose of our business model and the emphasis on long-term sustainability over short-term profit. When we offer our members affordable insurance, they are able to grow their business operations and assets, access capital and recover quickly in the event of loss. Through risk advice and education, we can assist with environmental sustainability and mitigate the impact of global warming, contaminant spills and climate-related catastrophes.”

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