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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.