Top 10 under 40: Matthew Civichino follows in father’s footsteps to succeed as insurance and surety broker

Matthew Civichino
Matthew Civichino

A second generation entrepreneur, Matthew Civichino has pursued his interest in insurance and surety with ELM Insurance Brokers Inc., a company his father co-founded almost 30 years ago. Today, at just 31 years of age, he is senior associate broker.

Civichino says he spent many summers working part-time with the company, learning about the industry. Following post-secondary school, he worked as a commercial lines underwriter for two years, then six months training with one of the largest Canadian surety companies before joining ELM as an associate broker in 2009.

He says during his time working in insurance he was intrigued by the surety aspect, finding it both refreshing and exciting. “I truly enjoyed the dynamic between all three parties: contractor-broker-carrier, and when I joined ELM, I spent a great deal of time working with the surety department and eventually evolved into our in-house surety/construction insurance specialist.”

Civichino works with new and existing clients, including developers, construction managers, general contractors, subtrades, road workers, sewer and watermain contractors, and suppliers. In some instances, he is helping them obtaining surety bonds, and in others, he is taking care of other insurance requirements. “A lot of times, when a client is tendering a project, we will have to provide quotations for various insurance policies that may be requested by the owner.”

Some of those policies may include builder’s risk insurance, wrap up liability insurance, pollution insurance and professional liability coverage. “I’ll work closely with our clients and review tender specs together with them to ensure we are looking after everything that is required to keep them covered properly and competitive by providing priced risk transfer products.”

Civichino says he enjoys both the people and the results part of his work. “I enjoy meeting new potential clients for the first time, getting to know their businesses and working together and enjoying success together.”

Relationships, he says, are another key component. “Whether it be with clients or with insurance companies, our relationships in this industry are second to none. We are fortunate to have aligned ourselves with some extraordinary people and it makes working together very, very enjoyable.”

Saying he measures his own success by sharing in his clients’ success and growing together with them, he says, “When a client says to me: ‘Matt, because of you and your ability to get me bonding, we are where we are today,’ that to me is a success story.”

He says contract review is one opportunity he has to offer advice that can help a client avoid agreeing to unfair terms. “Often we can ensure contracts are revised to better suit our clients and their interests. We face that challenge regularly and pride ourselves on doing a good job for our clients.”

Civichino represents contractors today who once were starting out with a pickup truck, a few hand tools and sales of no more than a couple hundred thousand dollars a year. “Now, that same contractor has built up a team of office staff, field staff, millions of dollars worth of contractor’s equipment, sales revenue exceeding seven figures, and I’ve been with them every step of the way. Those are my success stories.”

Despite his age, Civichino has more than 10 years of industry experience, not counting his teenaged exposure. Given the chance to work with a client or underwriter who may not realize the extent of his experience, he understands it is up to him to prove his expertise and knowledge, and to excel at meeting their requirements. “When you’ve proven to them that you know your stuff, I think the perception of being young and what that implies quickly expels itself.”

Civichino says the insurance industry is constantly evolving, with new product offerings constantly being made available and new challenges. For that reason, and others, he says he would highly recommend this as a career to other young people. “As time goes on, we’ll need more people in this industry to specialize in these various products and do a good job of providing the best coverage to businesses out there. That applies to both the brokerage level as well as the carrier level.”

His advice to young people is to get involved, attend networking events, and join associations. “Be involved in your industry and most importantly get to know your underwriters and clients. Once you’ve done that, you’ll feel like you’re going to work and dealing with friends every day as opposed to looking after clients.”

Civichino was one of the founding members of the SAC (Surety Association of Canada) Young Professionals Council in 2015 and is a current member of SAC (Surety Association of Canada). He is also an associate partner and member of the OGCA (Ontario General Contractors Association) and a member of the TCA (Toronto Construction Association).

In 2013, Civichino added to the legacy of the family business. “ELM Life and Group Management Inc. was formed to look after the life insurance and group (employee) benefit requirements for our clients. With the addition of these product offerings we truly are a full-service insurance brokerage.”

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