Canadian Insurance Services Regulatory Organizations (CISRO) has recently published the Principles of Conduct for Insurance Intermediaries, intended to help ensure the fair treatment of P&C consumers — and the Ontario regulator predicts broker compliance will be high.
Many of CISRO’s principles are reflected in RIBO’s Code of Conduct for Ontario brokers and agents, as Patrick Ballantyne, CEO of Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario, explains.
“As far as Ontario’s brokers go, it really is a restatement of the reality that they’ve been living in for years,” he says. “We had a Code of Conduct in our regulations for years and years. This is common practice for the brokers, it is entrenched in law, it is not guidance, it is not optional. These are the rules that Ontario’s insurance brokers are required to govern themselves by.
“So, in reviewing the guidance from CISRO, and reviewing our own Code of Conduct, they’re pretty much aligned. This will go some distance toward harmonizing the landscape or leveling the landscape right across the country for consumers.”
The principles consist of 10 professional behaviour and conduct expectations for the fair treatment of customers by insurance intermediaries in Canada — including adjusters, agents, brokers, representatives, MGAs and third-party administrators, through all distribution methods including the internet.
All Ontario-licensed brokers are required to share copies of both the CISRO Principles Document as well as a new RIBO fact sheet with all their customers as of Sept. 1, 2022.
Among the principles, intermediaries must ensure promotions of all products and services are not misleading, are easy to understand and disclose all necessary information. They must handle claims, complaints, and disputes in a timely and fair manner.
Intermediaries are also expected to identify, disclose and manage any actual or potential conflicts of interest associated with a transaction or recommendation.
“[A brokerage] may be owned by or have a partial ownership by an insurance company, or there could be a loan or financial interests. Those things could potentially present a conflict in the recommendation that a broker is making to a client, and those would have to be disclosed at the point of offering a quote,” Ballantyne explains.
Insurance intermediaries are also expected to take necessary and appropriate measures to protect and manage personal and confidential information about customers, maintain an appropriate level of professional knowledge, and take continuing education to ensure customers are treated fairly.
Ballantyne commends CISRO for the newly released guidelines: “It is a really good example of how regulators across the country can get together toward a common goal to come up with a harmonized approach to common issues.”
“I think it’s a real testament to the hard work that they’ve done,” he adds.
As for compliance, RIBO anticipates brokers to “meet and exceed” expectations.
“I don’t think it will impact the day-to-day activities of Ontario’s brokers,” Ballantyne says. “The broker should be able to continue doing what they’re doing, so long as it’s in compliance with the Code of Conduct.”
Feature image by iStock.com/Mohamad Faizal Bin Ramli