What's New at Council

 
Looking for Notices/Practice Advisories? You'll find our latest Notices here, under Licensee Resources.



 

March 2020


The global outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the recent declaration of a provincial state of emergency in BC has led to a great deal of change and upheaval in the lives of British Columbians, and the Insurance Council of BC and its licensees are no exception.

The health and safety of the public, our licensees, and our staff is our priority. At this time, we are continuing to provide services and carry out our regulatory functions, while abiding by the restrictions imposed by BC’s Provincial Health Officer. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, agencies and firms should also do their part to maintain social distance with clients and among staff, as directed by the Provincial Health Officer. 

The Insurance Council will conduct its business via phone, email and online, and we are working to move more of our processes online. And, while ‘business as usual’ may not be possible, we believe that we can best serve British Columbians by continuing to carry out our regulatory work in support of industry’s efforts to keep BC’s economy moving forward. We thank you for those efforts and for your understanding at this extraordinary time.


Where to Find Updates on our Response to COVID-19 and Impacts on our Services

As our physical office location closed on March 17, we are currently requiring that applications and other forms be submitted via email only, not by mail or courier. For any processes requiring payment, you will be contacted by our staff regarding payment details; please do not send payment via mail or courier.

Information about our current processes for handling licence applications, ATRs, and other matters is available on a special advisory page on our website. As the Coronavirus situation continues to develop, please be aware that other changes to our processes may become necessary.


Notice ICN 20-002 Temporary Suspension of Level 1 Salesperson Restriction Rule 6(1)(b)

The Insurance Council of BC shares the concerns of insurance agencies about the impact of agency closures and self-isolation measures on their ability to continue to meet British Columbians’ insurance needs at this crucial time. To support the public’s access to insurance products at this time, particularly car insurance, the Insurance Council has obtained the BC Minister of Finance’s approval of an urgent amendment to Insurance Council Rule 6(1)(b) to temporarily suspend the restriction which prohibits Level 1 General Insurance Salespersons from carrying out general insurance business in any place other than on the premises of the insurance agency the licensee is authorized to represent.

Important details regarding the amendment to Rule 6(1)(b), and regulatory requirements to be followed are outlined in Notice ICN 20-002 Temporary Suspension of Level 1 Salesperson Restriction Rule 6(1)(b), available in the Notices section of our website.


Notice ICN 20-001 Brokering Best Practices

In early March, the Insurance Council of BC issued an advisory notice, ICN 20-001 Brokering Best Practices, to provide guidance to insurance brokers on how best to operate in the current hard market conditions. Market challenges facing consumers in British Columbia include reductions in insurer capacity and/or willingness to underwrite risk, significant premium increases, and deductible increases.  

Diligent and ethical practice by Insurance Council licensees is essential to ensure that consumers’ interests are protected. This notice identifies best practices to help licensees to meet their professional obligations around: 1) Helping Clients Understand the Market, 2) Timely Notification, 3) Providing Advice, and 4) Duty of Care.

General Insurance licensees are expected to be aware of and familiarize themselves with this guidance. Notice ICN 20-001 Brokering Best Practices is available here, or in the Notices section of our website.


2020 Annual Filing

This year, Annual Filing for 2020 will be conducted entirely online. We will be providing instructions and information in the weeks to come. Over the last few months, we have been working on improvements to the online portal which will make it more user friendly to complete your filing this year, and which will add additional features and functionality.


Council Appointments

The Insurance Council of BC is pleased to announce the following re-appointments, effective December 2019:

  • Cameron Copeland (General Agent - Can-Sure Underwriting (HUB))
  • Manjit Biring (General Agent - InsureLine Brokers Inc.)
  • Fraser Anderson (Adjuster - Coast Claims Insurance Services)

See more information about the members of Council.

 

2020

New Year, New Resolutions: Have You Completed Your Continuing Education for Annual Filing?

Annual filing may be months away, but it’s not too early to complete your continuing education (CE) credits. All licensees regardless of status are required to complete the CE requirements for their class of licence annually by May 31 as part of their annual filing.

If you are not sure how many CE credits you are required to complete, or what qualifies as technical content, see the Licensee Resources section of our website for more information.
 

In case you missed it: 

Donations of Life Insurance Policies
In December, the Insurance Council issued an advisory notice regarding the donation of life insurance policies. Life agents should be aware of the considerations surrounding these activities in order to comply with regulatory requirements. Notice ICN 19-005 Donations of Life Insurance Policies provides guidance on this topic. You can view Notice ICN 19-005 here.

New Options for LLQP Exam
Starting in February, the Insurance Council is introducing an option for Harmonized Life Licence Qualification Program (LLQP) examinees to schedule and write individual exam modules for a fee of $50 per module. Examinees will still have the option of writing up to four exam modules in one day for a fee of $125. For more information, please contact examinations@insurancecouncilofbc.com.

Preparing for Annual Filing 2020

In preparation for annual filing season, the Insurance Council is working on upgrades to the online portal that will make it easier for licensees to complete this year's filing. This includes improvements to the dashboard as well as additional functions for corporate nominees.

The annual filing fee will be announced in next month’s What’s New email, and filing will officially open on April 1, 2020Licensees are encouraged to update their contact information via the online portal so that they can receive annual filing communication from Council.

 

Changes to the Financial Institutions Act

Changes to the Financial Institutions Act (Act) received royal assent in November 2019. This is the provincial legislation that governs the regulatory framework for credit unions, insurance companies and intermediaries, and trust companies in BC. The amended legislation will be introduced in stages through regulations and is expected to come into effect in its entirety by 2021.

A number of changes introduced by the Act relate to sections of the legislation that govern the Insurance Council. Some are administrative in nature, relating to how the Insurance Council conducts its business, or relating to governance, with little to no direct impact on licensees. Others are more directly applicable to licensees.

What’s Changing?

The first set of changes that impact the Insurance Council were brought into force on January 24, 2020, and include the following.

  • Updated language regarding false representation – Existing language prohibiting false representation in the use of certain names or words has been updated and relocated to section 12.1 of the Act.
  • Increased powers of investigation – Section 232 sets out the powers of investigators for investigations under the Act, such as powers of entry and access to records, and adds offences for obstructing or interfering with those investigations.
  • Increases to maximum fines – Changes to Section 231(1)(k) increase the maximum fines the Insurance Council can impose from $20,000 to $50,000 for corporations, and from $10,000 to $25,000 for individuals. Partnerships are also now subject to the same maximum fines as corporations.
  • Assessment of costs – An amended section 241.1(1) allows the Insurance Council to assess investigation and hearing costs, even if no order results from the investigation or hearing.
  • Online sale of insurance – Section 92.2 introduces a requirement for insurance companies, insurance agents and insurance salespersons who sell insurance online to comply with rules and requirements to be established by the BC Financial Services Authority.

Further changes related to governance or operation of the Insurance Council include amendments regarding the duties of Council, frequency of meetings, and the handling and disclosure of confidential information.

What’s Next

Regulations implementing the Financial Institutions Act changes will continue to be rolled out over the coming months.

The Insurance Council is closely monitoring implementation of the Act, and engaging with government on development of the regulations. We will be providing updates as information becomes available.

You can find more detailed information on the amendments to the Act on the BC government website, including amendment wording and a log of legislative changes.

See News Archive

2019
2018