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Robert McDowell

Robert W. McDowell

Partner Fasken
Insurance regulation is in a constant state of change and presents insurers with the most challenging and competitive circumstances in modern times, particularly regarding capital adequacy, risk assessment and management, governance and market conduct (e.g. treat the customer fairly), fast-changing consumer preferences, InsurTech, new distribution arrangements (not just digital), new products and new threats and risks (e.g. cyber, climate change).
Jurisdiction Ontario, 1972
Language(s) English
Office(s) Toronto

Robert McDowell is the Co-Chair of the firm’s Financial Institutions Group. Robert specializes in advising life and general insurance companies, reinsurers, brokers and agents, and other financial services players on transactional, financing, incorporations, corporate, governance, regulatory and risk management matters.

Robert assists clients in a variety of areas, including:

Financial Institutions Advice - Acting on the creation, structuring, incorporation and registration of domestic and foreign insurers, reinsurers, credit unions, and cooperatives.

Transactional Expertise - Acting on the merger, acquisition, reorganization and public and private financing of life and general insurance companies, reinsurers, cooperatives and credit unions, as well as the demutualization of life and general insurance companies.

Robert has led several significant transactions in the insurance industry including advising:

  • The Travelers Companies in its strategic acquisition in Canada of the majority of the shares of an InsureTech company, Zensurance, to own it together with the Founders, which provides digital insurance broker distribution of commercial insurance products. Closed August 8, 2018.
  • The Co-operators Group on the merger of its wealth management business held through The CUMIS Group with those of Desjardins Group and the five provincial credit union centrals to become Aviso Wealth with $55 billion in combined client assets, anticipated to close February 28, 2018.
  • The Co-operators acquires the minority interest in the common shares of The Cumis Group which it did not already own from Central 1 Credit Union.
  • CCR RE being licensed as a reinsurance branch in Canada as of January 1, 2017 and the assumption reinsurance of the business of CCR in Canada to it.
  • Aviva Canada Inc. on the acquisition of RBC General Insurance Company and entry into a 15 year strategic agreement with RBC closed in June 2016.
  • Westaim on the completion of a $234 million financing for the creation of Arena Finance to provide Alternative Credit Asset Financing completed in August 2015.
  • Intact Financial Corporation on the acquisition of Canadian Direct Insurance from Canadian Western Bank completed in May 2015.
  • Esurance Insurance Company of Canada on its incorporation and licensing in 2015.

Regulatory Advice - Advising clients extensively on regulatory matters in relation to a great variety of  transactions and has significant expertise dealing with financial institution regulators including with respect to distribution and market conduct matters:

  • Licensing of insurance and reinsurance companies and branches across Canada or with numerous provinces/territories   
  • Licensing of corporate insurance agencies, brokerages, MGAs, and adjusters
  • Incidental sale of insurance across Canada
  • Restricted licensing regimes in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba and licensing exemptions in other provinces/territories
  • Warranty vs. insurance, including discussions with provincial/territorial regulators
  • Insurance vs. guarantee and surety insurance
  • Structuring and distribution models for insurance products (such as travel insurance, gap insurance, etc.)
  • Title insurance matters, including discussions with provincial/territorial regulators
  • Legal expense insurance proposals and litigation funding arrangements
  • Market conduct issues (i.e., inducements, rebating, and other deceptive acts/practices)
  • E-commerce issues relating to the distribution of insurance

In addition to advising domestic clients, Robert also assists international insurers and financial institutions from the United States, Europe and Asia on transaction, business and regulatory matters.

Robert is active at the National Insurance Conference of Canada, the Northwind Forum on Financial Services for the Life Insurance Industry and the Property and Casualty Insurance Industry, and others.      

  • Recognized nationwide as a Leading Individual in Insurance, The Legal 500 Canada 2019 to 2020
  • Recognized nationwide in Insurance: Transactional & Regulatory , Chambers Canada 2018 to 2020
  • Recognized Nationwide as Highly Regarded in Financial Services Regulatory, IFLR 1000 2018 to 2020
The Legal 500 Canada Recognized nationwide as a Leading Individual in Insurance
Chambers Canada Recognized nationwide in Insurance: Transactional & Regulatory Chambers Canada covers lawyers and law firms practicing in all provinces and territories in Canada.
IFLR 1000 Recognized Nationwide as Highly Regarded in Financial Services Regulatory Recognized most recently in the 2020 edition of IFLR 1000


  • LLB Osgoode Hall Law School at York University

Memberships & Affiliations

  • Member, Canadian Bar Association
  • Member, Ontario Bar Association
Guide, Co-Author Canada Trends And Developments Chambers Global Practice Guide - Insurance & Reinsurance
Article, Co-Author OSFI Releases Revised Transaction Instructions National Banking & Finance Law Review, 22 B.F.L.R. 73
Article The Canadian Insurance M&A Environment Asian-Mena Counsel M&A Special Report
Speaker Corporate Governance 2019 2019 CLHIA Compliance & Consumer Complaints Annual Conference location location Niagara Falls, ON, Canada
Risk Culture, Structuring an Effective Compliance Program Osgoode Hall Certificate Program in Regulatory Compliance and Risk Management location location Toronto
Speaker OSFI's New Draft Corporate Governance Guideline 2018 CLHIA Compliance & Consumer Complaints Annual Conference location location Calgary, AB, Canada


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