Allianz SE, Europe’s biggest insurer, is expanding in Canada, targeting protection for the energy and mining industries.

The insurer, which offers corporate property and casualty coverage in Canada through brokers, plans to boost gross written premiums in the nation to C$500 million ($454 million) in the next three to four years, according to Kevin Leong, head of Allianz in Canada. That would be a 47 percent increase from this year’s C$340 million premium estimate.

“Canada is a growth market for Allianz,” Leong said at the company’s Toronto headquarters yesterday. “We’re expanding our products and client base. We are at the moment in hiring mode.”

The Munich-based company, which employs 120 people in Toronto and provides insurance to the marine, aviation, corporate and industrial industries, plans to add eight staff in Vancouver in the next three months. It’s also considering opening an office in Calgary as it hunts for medium-sized oil, gas and mining clients, insuring them against everything from equipment theft to site explosions and delayed production.

For Allianz, a medium-sized company is anything with a market value less than $650 million, Leong said.

Canada’s oil patch is experiencing its biggest boom in deals in at least a decade as domestic players made $6.4 billion of acquisitions in the year through February, buoyed by rising share prices. Canada’s S&P/TSX Energy Index has gained 10 percent this year, compared with a 5.6 percent gain in the S&P/TSX Composite Index.

“Many of the oil and gas exploration companies are cash rich — they are starting to expand and we’re supporting them,” Leong said. “Our new DNA is we are now dropping down into the middle-market segment to reach the majority of the Canadian market.”

Allianz’s current Canadian clients include about 10 percent of the country’s stocks with a market value of more than C$650 million, including Air Canada and Bombardier Inc.

Allianz plans to begin selling Cyber Protect in Canada next month, a new product that provides insurance for corporations against data theft.