Desjardins Group announced today that its insurance arm is launching services in Ontario. Desjardins General Insurance (DGI) has extended its direct home and auto insurance offerings outside of its traditional Quebec range.

“We’ve been planning and researching our launch into the Ontario mass market for some time,” said Jean-François Chalifoux, DGI’s general manager and senior executive vice-president, in a release. “We believe there is a significant opportunity for a true direct provider because Ontario is far behind the U.S., Europe and even Quebec in the penetration rate of direct insurance.”

DGI home and auto insurance is underwritten by Certas Direct Insurance Co., part of Desjardins General Insurance Group, which also owns The Personal and Desjardins Assurances générales. Desjardins General Insurance Group is a wholly owned subsidiary of Desjardins Group.

“We are launching in a big way and will be blanketing the province with the Desjardins General Insurance name,” said Chalifoux. “That’s because we recognize that we have a big job to do creating awareness of this new insurance brand in Ontario.”

The DGI business is currently spread throughout Quebec through the Desjardins caisses network. It has offices in Levis, Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Mississauga and Calgary. It had sales of $1.4 billion in 2006 with 1,795,000 policies in force.