Issuing of Product-specific Restricted Licences Discontinued

Information and Q&A


Published March 1, 2021
 

The Insurance Council recently identified an issue with the process for granting licences restricted to the sale of one or more specific products.  A legal review determined that while the Insurance Council has the authority to issue restricted licences under the Financial Institutions Act, the current process requires revision in order to be fully compliant with the Act.

As result, the Insurance Council ceased issuing new licences with product-specific restrictions.

We are working diligently to address this situation. While we anticipate that this will not be resolved in the short term, this issue is a priority for the Insurance Council and we will be keeping licensees and stakeholders informed as we work to resolve the matter.  

To explain the issue in greater detail and to answer questions that licensees and stakeholders may have, we have provided the Q&A below.
 

Question & Answer Topics:
General Information   |   Applicants   |   Current Restricted Licence Holders   |   Insurers

GENERAL INFORMATION


What’s the issue?

In addition to its regular licensing process, the Insurance Council has for many years also issued restricted licences—a type of licence with conditions imposed on it to limit the scope of practice. This is done in occasional circumstances where individuals or companies applying for licensure do not meet the standard requirements for a full licence under the Insurance Council Rules, but their insurance activities are limited to the sale, or adjusting of one or more specific products. 

A recent legal review of the process for granting product-specific restricted licences determined that while the Insurance Council has the legislative authority to issue restricted licences under the Financial Institutions Act, the process is not set out in the Insurance Council’s Rules. This makes the act of granting these restricted licences ultra vires, i.e., beyond the scope of the powers currently defined in its rules.  In order to avoid non-compliance with the Act, the Insurance Council has ceased issuing product-specific restricted licences until the matter can be resolved.


What does this mean? Who is affected?

There will be an impact on new applicants for licences restricted to the sale or adjusting of specific insurance products. No new applications are being accepted for product-specific restricted licences; all pending applications will be closed and application fees refunded.

There is no interruption to those who currently have a restricted licence. These licence holders can continue to carry out the insurance activities for which they are licensed. 

There is no disruption to the standard licensing process for insurance agents, agencies or adjusters (General Insurance, Life and/or Accident & Sickness, Adjusters).

There is no disruption to licensing for travel agents or wholesalers with a Restricted Travel Insurance Agent Licence who are also licenced with Consumer Protection BC.
 

What’s the impact on consumers?

We anticipate that this situation will have minimal impact on consumers, as insurance products continue to be available through current restricted licence holders and licensed insurance agents and agencies.

Furthermore, the validity of insurance products sold by restricted-licence holders is unchanged as they hold a valid insurance licence.
 

How is this issue being resolved?

We anticipate that addressing this matter will require the creation of one or more new Insurance Council Rules to establish a framework for a revised restricted licensing process.  Section 225.1 of the Financial Institutions Act sets out the Insurance Council’s ability to make rules.
 

How long is this expected to take?

The creation of Insurance Council Rules under the Financial Institutions Act is a complex undertaking and may take anywhere from 18 to 24 months. Any new rule will need to be approved by government following legal analysis and public consultation in compliance with the Act’s Insurance Council Rule-making Procedure Regulation. As such, a new rule is not expected to be in place before August 2022.

 

APPLICANTS

What’s happening to my application?

The Insurance Council will not be issuing any new product-specific restricted licences. If you have applied for a restricted licence your application will be closed and your application fees will be refunded to you. All applicants will receive a notification email from us with information about your refund.


What’s my alternative if I want to be able to sell insurance products?

Insurance licensure is available through our regular process of admission. Applicants would need to meet standard qualification requirements, and not be participating in any other conflicting business activity or employment  that prevents them from holding an insurance licence. 

RESTRICTED LICENCE HOLDERS

I currently have a licence that’s restricted to the sale of certain product. How does this affect my licence?

Licences previously issued by the regulator continue to be valid, and licence-holders can continue to practice within the parameters of their existing licence conditions.
 

What does this issue mean for insurance products that I’ve previously sold as a restricted licence holder?

The validity of insurance products sold by restricted-licence holders is unchanged. Under the Insurance Act, the contractual relationship for insurance products is between the insured and insurer.
 

Does this affect Restricted Travel Insurance Agent Licences?

Applications for Restricted Travel Insurance Agent Licences for travel agencies or wholesalers who are also licenced with Consumer Protection BC are not affected by this change.

The Restricted Travel Insurance Agent Licence is issued to travel agencies whose employees meet the conditions for licensing exemption under the Financial Institutions Act. This is different to product-specific restricted licences.

 

INSURERS

Are insurers able to continue the distribution of insurance products through restricted licensees?

Licensees who are currently authorized to sell insurance products can continue do so. This includes fully licensed agents, or those with existing restricted licences with conditions that allow them to sell that product.
 

What if an insurer wants to distribute a new product through a restricted licence holder ?

No new restricted licences are being issued until a new rule and revised restricted licensing process are in place.

Who can I contact for more information?

To reach our Licensing team, you can contact licensing@insurancecouncilofbc.com or 604-695-2007.