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Get up to speed on the latest news and developments from the Insurance Council of British Columbia.

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Notices/Practices Advisories

What's New at Council - Monthly Update


 

What's New at Council

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



 

June 2020

LLQP Exams Resume in Vancouver Location

Life Licence Qualification Program (LLQP) exams have now resumed in our Vancouver location. Exams follow strict physical distancing and other COVID-19 prevention measures. We are currently accepting new registrations for exams in our Vancouver location only. Exams in Surrey and in locations outside of Metro Vancouver continue to be suspended until further notice. Registrants whose exams were cancelled in the months of March to May 2020 will be given priority to schedule their exams. For more information about how to register for an exam, please visit our COVID-19 update page
 

Status of Temporary Rule Change for Level 1 Location Restriction

In March, to support insurance licensees’ ability to work from home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Insurance Council successfully obtained an urgent amendment to Rule 6(1)(b) from the Minister of Finance to temporarily suspend the restriction that prohibits Level 1 General Insurance Salespersons from carrying out general insurance business in any place other than the premises of the licensee’s insurance agency.

Rules changed under the process for urgent amendments are effective for a temporary nine-month period, reverting back to their original state unless repealed or revoked before that time. We are currently gathering data regarding the impact of the rule change over the last three months to assess what next steps should be taken regarding the temporary status of Rule 6(1)(b). We will provide an update when this information becomes available. 
 

Government Actions Aim to Address Increasing Cost of Strata Insurance

Last week, the BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA) released an interim report of its findings regarding the rising costs of strata insurance. The report assessed the strata insurance market in BC as being in an “unhealthy” state, highlighting a number of indicators leading to this conclusion. The interim report is available on the BCFSA website, with a full report expected this fall.

Yesterday, the provincial government announced actions it was taking to address the rising cost of strata insurance. Legislative changes are being introduced to increase clarity and transparency around depreciation reports, strata corporations’ insurance requirements and coverage, notification, as well as commission and compensation.

Of particular relevance to insurance licensees, the legislative amendments will discontinue the practice of referral fees paid by insurers or insurance brokers to property managers or other third parties. They will also pave the way for requirements for brokers to disclose the amount of commission received, and stronger notification requirements for changes to insurance coverage and costs, or an intent not to renew.

The Insurance Council of BC will continue to engage with government and other stakeholders on this matter, and will be working towards ensuring that implementation of these measures supports regulatory effectiveness.

 The full announcement from the Province is available on the government’s website. 
 

Consultation on Proposed CE Guidelines Underway

We are seeking your feedback on proposed Continuing Education Guidelines for implementation in 2021. Your input will help inform Council’s decision-making process as it considers adopting these guidelines. On June 12, licensees were emailed a link to a consultation survey on the guidelines, inviting participation. If you haven’t done so, you can complete the survey here before it closes on July 17, 2020. Consultation on the guidelines will remain open until the end of July. For more information about the guidelines and how we are consulting, see the consultation page on our website. 

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.

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.

 

April 2020


Deadline to Complete Continuing Education Extended

At their April meeting, the voting members of the Insurance Council approved an extension of the annual deadline for licensees to complete their continuing education (CE) requirements from May 31, 2020, to the following year, May 31, 2021.

Continuing education supports competent practice, and Insurance Council Rule 7(5) requires licensees to complete a specific amount of continuing education (CE) credits by May 31 annually based on their licence class and experience. However, the disruptions caused by the global coronavirus pandemic have made completing CE credits by the deadline more challenging for licensees. Licensees will now have an additional year to complete their 2020 CE credits. They will still need to complete their 2021 CE credits by May 31, 2021.

You can find more information on the extension, including a Q&A, on the Insurance Council website.


Annual Filing: What You Need to Know About Changing Your Licence Status

Annual filing is underway and the deadline to submit your annual filing is June 1, 2020. To address some frequently asked questions about non-renewal and changes to licence status, we’ve included the following brief Q&A:

I am not sure if I should renew my licence. What should I do?

Are you taking time away from your insurance work due to parental or medical leave? Are you unsure whether the insurance business is right for you and whether you should renew your licence for another year? Please be aware that whether you are an active or inactive licensee, there are still licensee responsibilities you are required to fulfill. This includes completing continuing education, annual filing, and mandatory notification requirements.

For more information on the requirements for each licence status, see our “What Type of Licence Status is Right for Me?” infosheet. You can also discuss your licensing options with a member of our Regulatory Services team.

I have decided to terminate my insurance licence. Do I need to advise Council?

Yes. The request to terminate a licence must come from you, the licensee, directly. Please submit a written request to our Licensing team at licensing@insurancecouncilofbc.com and provide the date on which you wish to terminate your licence.

If I terminate my licence now and I decide to reapply in the future, what do I need to know?

Please review the Reactivation Provision before you proceed to terminate your licence. You may be required to retake the qualifying education if you do not meet the conditions of the provision.

For more information about annual filing, including detailed instructions, please see our website.

 
 
More Online Services Available

We recently added new functionality to the Insurance Council’s online portal. All licensees can now:
  • Print licence certificates
  • Process payments for applications.
Corporate licensees can now:
  • Add/remove Authority to Represent (ATR) agreements
  • Designate delegates to complete functions in the online portal for the corporate licence.
You can access these services through the online portal on the Insurance Council website.

E-signatures on Insurance Council Forms

Insurance Council forms for licence applications, supervisor undertaking, adding authority to represent, and declaring other business activities have been updated to accept digital signatures. This change will help to streamline licensees’ submission of forms via email in line with our current processes.


CE Records: Your Licence, Your Responsibility

Licensees are required to keep a record of their continuing education (CE) for five years, but did you know that you are not required to submit your CE course completion information with your annual filing?

Regardless of whether your agency keeps track of your CE credits, make sure to keep a copy of your course completion certificates and course content information. If you are audited by the Insurance Council, you will be asked to provide your records at that time. Ultimately, it is the licensee’s responsibility to demonstrate that they have met the CE requirements for their licence if audited.

For questions about how many CE credits you are required to complete annually, or what qualifies as technical content, visit our website for more information.

 

Annual Filing Deadline is June 1; Council Approves Change to Late Fee

The deadline for licensees to complete their annual filing is June 1, 2020. Filings received after June 1 will be subject to a late fee.

At its most recent meeting, Insurance Council members approved the reduction of the 2020 late filing fee to $25 from $200, in consideration of the challenges arising from the current health crisis and the impact on individual and corporate licensees.

To date, over 27,000 licensees have submitted annual filings through the Insurance Council’s online portal. See information and instructions for annual filing.


Code of Conduct Update: Notice for Insurance Renewals

The Insurance Council’s Code of Conduct has been updated to reflect the guidance provided to insurance brokers in March about the amount of notice they must give clients in advance of insurance policy renewal in a challenging market.

Section 7.3.12 of the Code of Conduct, states that “clients must be notified at least 60 days prior to the expiration of their existing insurance if you are unable to renew their insurance at the same terms and conditions.” Prior to the revision, the minimum requirement under the Code was 30 days’ notice.

In response to hardening market conditions, in early March brokers were advised in notice ICN 20-001, Brokering Best Practices, of the expectation that they contact their clients a minimum of 60 days in advance of the insurance renewal date. This revision of the Code of Conduct brings practice expectations and requirements into alignment.

See the Code of Conduct or Notice ICN 20-001 Brokering Best Practices.


BCFSA Releases Bulletin on Charitable Donations

The BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA) has released a bulletin regarding charitable donations. Bulletin INS-20-003, Charitable Donation of Life Insurance Policies in British Columbia, clarifies BCFSA’s position on the interpretation and application of section 152 of the Insurance Act to certain activities related to the charitable donation of life insurance policies in British Columbia.

The Insurance Council’s notice ICN 19-005, Donations of Life Insurance Policies, provides guidance on this topic for insurance licensees.

Insurance Council Publishes Strategic Plan for 2020-2023

The Insurance Council has published its strategic plan for 2020-2023. The new three-year plan takes effect in June 2020 and provides direction for the organization’s activities. The plan is focused on updating regulatory practices in line with international standards; providing oversight that protects consumers and enables industry innovation; enhancing support for consumers, licensees and government; and delivering efficient and effective access to Insurance Council services.

The plan is the culmination of council discussions and strategic planning sessions held earlier in the year, with support and insights from staff.

See the 2020-2023 Strategic Plan on our website.
 

In Case You Missed It: Continuing Education Deadline Extended

The deadline to complete your continuing education requirements for 2020 has been extended to 2021. See more information about the extension.


Council Member Appointments

We are pleased to announce the recent re-appointment of the following non-voting members effective June 30, 2020:

  • John Crisp - Life Insurance Agent (Fernhill Financial Corp.)
  • Bob Scott - Adjuster (Scott & Associates Insurance Adjusters)
  • Brett Simpson - Life Insurance Agent (RGF Integrated Wealth Management)

More information about the members of Council is available on our website.

LLQP Exams Resume in Vancouver Location

Life Licence Qualification Program (LLQP) exams have now resumed in our Vancouver location. Exams follow strict physical distancing and other COVID-19 prevention measures. We are currently accepting new registrations for exams in our Vancouver location only. Exams in Surrey and in locations outside of Metro Vancouver continue to be suspended until further notice. Registrants whose exams were cancelled in the months of March to May 2020 will be given priority to schedule their exams. For more information about how to register for an exam, please visit our COVID-19 update page
 

Status of Temporary Rule Change for Level 1 Location Restriction

In March, to support insurance licensees’ ability to work from home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Insurance Council successfully obtained an urgent amendment to Rule 6(1)(b) from the Minister of Finance to temporarily suspend the restriction that prohibits Level 1 General Insurance Salespersons from carrying out general insurance business in any place other than the premises of the licensee’s insurance agency.

Rules changed under the process for urgent amendments are effective for a temporary nine-month period, reverting back to their original state unless repealed or revoked before that time. We are currently gathering data regarding the impact of the rule change over the last three months to assess what next steps should be taken regarding the temporary status of Rule 6(1)(b). We will provide an update when this information becomes available. 
 

Government Actions Aim to Address Increasing Cost of Strata Insurance

Last week, the BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA) released an interim report of its findings regarding the rising costs of strata insurance. The report assessed the strata insurance market in BC as being in an “unhealthy” state, highlighting a number of indicators leading to this conclusion. The interim report is available on the BCFSA website, with a full report expected this fall.

Yesterday, the provincial government announced actions it was taking to address the rising cost of strata insurance. Legislative changes are being introduced to increase clarity and transparency around depreciation reports, strata corporations’ insurance requirements and coverage, notification, as well as commission and compensation.

Of particular relevance to insurance licensees, the legislative amendments will discontinue the practice of referral fees paid by insurers or insurance brokers to property managers or other third parties. They will also pave the way for requirements for brokers to disclose the amount of commission received, and stronger notification requirements for changes to insurance coverage and costs, or an intent not to renew.

The Insurance Council of BC will continue to engage with government and other stakeholders on this matter, and will be working towards ensuring that implementation of these measures supports regulatory effectiveness.

 The full announcement from the Province is available on the government’s website. 
 

Consultation on Proposed CE Guidelines Underway

We are seeking your feedback on proposed Continuing Education Guidelines for implementation in 2021. Your input will help inform Council’s decision-making process as it considers adopting these guidelines. On June 12, licensees were emailed a link to a consultation survey on the guidelines, inviting participation. If you haven’t done so, you can complete the survey here before it closes on July 17, 2020. Consultation on the guidelines will remain open until the end of July. For more information about the guidelines and how we are consulting, see the consultation page on our website. 

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