Hyndman Insurance, a family legacy dating back 152 years
Posted on January 19, 2024 | By Alexander Chafe | 0 Comments
Once a family-owned insurance company, the story of Hyndman Insurance dates back over one and a half centuries. What started with a single agent focused on serving the marine industry grew into a multi-location organization with a variety of policy offerings for customers across the country. While Hyndman Insurance has since been acquired, memories of the family’s legacy are not forgotten.
Insuring risky waters
Frederick William Hyndman, founder of Hyndman Insurance, had a long association with the marine sector. With a father as a shipbuilder, Hyndman went on to have a long career in the industry himself as a surveyor with the Royal Navy. He knew the business well, and its risks. After retiring from the Navy in the late 19th century, Frederick returned home and cashed in his pension to invest in various entrepreneurial endeavours. It was in 1872 that he first established Hyndman Insurance in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
At the time, shipping insurance was hard to come by on the Island since companies who provided it were far overseas. Seeing an opportunity, Hyndman approached Lloyd’s of London and secured a contract to be its agent for P.E.I.
Hyndman Insurance was officially incorporated in the early 20th century. In 1910, Fredrick purchased the Hyndman Building where he continued to manage operations until 1916 when he passed the business on to the second generation. As client needs changed over time, Hyndman diversified its service offerings with other types of insurance like fire, life and auto (once they were invented).
Due to its proximity to P.E.I., Hyndman Insurance had customers in Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine since the early days. After growing the number of its offices in P.E.I., Hyndman Insurance expanded to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the 1960s when fourth-generation owner Fred Hyndman joined the family business. According to Hyndman, his great-grandfather’s business grew to have about 20 offices throughout three provinces, around 100 employees and customers across the country.
Fred Hyndman was also responsible for modernizing operations at Hyndman Insurance in the 1970s by being one of the first Atlantic Canadian insurance brokerages to be computerized.
The big sale
Hyndman Insurance continued to be a fully family-owned business until around 2019 when the family began to sell shares of the company. After Fred retired in 2020, his daughter Helen became the fifth-generation operator of the family business.
In 2022, 150-year-old Hyndman Insurance was acquired by B.C.-based Westland Insurance. Fred Hyndman says the decision was made in a shareholders meeting, which his daughter was disappointed with. There were some good reasons for the sale, but it was ultimately a financial decision for the other partners who were nervous about the changing nature of the business.
While Westland has since taken over, its offices in Charlottetown remain in the historic Hyndman Building. Commenting on the family business’ reputation, Frank says “There’s a feeling of security in working with a company that was 150 years old. We were well-known across the country, so there was some comfort in that.”
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