Licensee holding out – What you need to know

Published November 18, 2022

Licensees must honestly represent themselves and the services and products they provide so as not to mislead the public.

Licensees must represent themselves to the public (“hold themselves out” to the public) accurately revealing the licence they hold and qualifications so that the public is aware of whom they are interacting with. This includes disclosing that you are an insurance agent prior to conducting insurance activities with the public, and not representing yourself as having specific expertise in a given area of practice or industry designations unless suitably qualified by virtue of experience, training, or both.

A licensee’s name as it appears on the licensee’s licence and Licensee Directory must accurately be reflected in all insurance business materials, including business cards, letterhead, signage, email signatures, websites, promotional material, and all forms of advertising.

All names under which insurance business is conducted, other than an individual's own name must:
  • Be registered with the BC Corporate Registry
  • Be a name that will not likely be confused with the name of another licensee/business
  • Be registered with and approved by the Insurance Council
  • Not use the term “and Associates,” or a similar phrase, as part of a business trade name when there are not two or more licensees in the business.

Agents and salespersons who primarily deal with a single product or product line should be careful not to use the product name in their marketing strategies in a way that may mislead a member of the public into believing it is a trade name.

Licensees are also reminded that they must not present themselves to the public in such a manner as to suggest that they are a registered insurance company, rather than an agency. Section 12.1(b) of the Financial Institutions Act states "a person commits an offence" when they "give a false impression that the person is a trust company or an insurance company." It is the Insurance Council's position that these requirements also extend to corporate logos and that the agency's registered legal name or trade name should always accompany the logo. 

To address some frequently asked questions about holding out, we’ve included the following brief Q&A.

I am a life insurance agent and am licensed as John Doe. Can I conduct my insurance business as ‘John Doe Insurance Services?’

Individual licensees who intend to sell insurance under a trade name must apply for a sole-proprietor life insurance agent licence, including registering the name with the BC Corporate registry, meeting agency name requirements, and meeting nominee requirements. Please refer to Insurance Council Rules 2(17) and 2(18) for more information on Business Registration and Name Requirements.

My licence is issued in my full legal name which is Priyanka, but I am more commonly known as Anka. Can I hold out using the abbreviated version of my name?

Even though licensees may be referred to and use an abbreviated version or commonly known name, all insurance business, including advertising, must still include their name as it appears on their licence so that they are holding out in the name they are licensed.

I am an unaffiliated life insurance agent, and I sell the products of only one insurer. Can I use the insurer’s name and logo in my advertising materials?

Agents and salespersons who primarily deal with a single product or product line should be careful not to use the product name in their marketing strategies in a way that may mislead the public into believing it is their trade name. If there is an inclusion of an insurer’s logo, the licensee’s registered legal name or trade name (as licensed) should always accompany the logos and there should be no confusion to the public. Licensees are required to publicly disclose that they are an insurance agent, prior to soliciting and conducting any insurance business.

All Insurance Council licensees are expected to abide by and stay up-to-date on the most current Council Rules and Code of Conduct, and be aware of their licensee responsibilities.