Canadian Underwriter

Letters to the Editor

July 29, 2010  

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RE: February 2010

Lower Cost Can Affect Care

Ms. King,
While ignorance of the law is no excuse, neither would innocent error be a winning defence against a privacy breach and we can accept that as true in reading Sharon Polsky’s letter, which implies that the law governing a privacy breach is absolute, however it is made.

But what is innocent error (besides maladministration and imprudent management)? Sending an auto-leasing company evidence of a lessee’s data that goes beyond the data required by the lessor (other listed drivers’ licence numbers)? Copies of a policy to a Bank to satisfy mortgage requirements displaying information greater than that required? (they usually display coverage premiums). Entering data into a rating system to develop auto and property premium quotations?

It would seem that the precaution message here concerns the prevention of identity theft as much as it does anything else. In truth, if it were the purview of someone to obtain information on another for an illicit purpose, there would no doubt be various ways to go about this and they would not all be related to insurance. It is similar in sense to the admission once averred by a professional thief that a good one can open a door, any door, in less than 1.2 seconds.

So there are likely many innocent errors related to the release of information that should have remained private. As indicated earlier, that is no excuse for the law. But what we are doing is painting the judicial system as having one face for absolute law of privacy breach and another as it concerns, for example, the lack of retributive justice for corporate hijinks (e.g. MFP). If that is correct, then we have a long way to go in establishing right from wrong.

Frank Cain

RE: Licence to Kill, Editorial, March 2010

One-stop shopping

Hi Romana,

I suspect the various provincial “bureaucrats” will not want to relinquish control nor dismantle government unionized jobs. The backlash here in Ontario regarding tax collectors receiving severance while not losing a day’s pay would be repeated. The federal government probably has no interest in reaching into this issue either, preferring the provinces to work out solutions.

Personally, I think the provincial licensing regime is okay. What I’d like to see though is the ability for a broker to obtain extra provincial licensing via your own regulatory authority. You apply for a “stamp” basically that in Ontario would be via RIBO. RIBO as the regulator then directs funds to the various provinces. Brokers would select the licences they want and the renewal price would reflect the options taken. One-stop shopping, if you will.

Just last week I had to go see a lawyer to have my New Brunswick application “notarized.” A hassle that most provinces don’t require, particularly as our firm has been licensed there many years and I have been personally licensed since around 2005 there. Layers of red tape. An additional legal expense that is really entirely unnecessary. Naturally, the expiry dates are all different so it’s a fair bit of effort to complete all the forms, provide the same information (proof of insurance etc.) to, in our case, all provinces and territories (except PQ).

This would dovetail with the CCIR agreement in which the provinces agreed to rely on continuing education requirements of your “home” jurisdiction. Previously, as a Principal Broker, I not only had to comply with the RIBO-required 10 hours of CE, but also had to make sure I had met all of the various requirements of the other provinces, no two of which were the same. That was a positive step. My suggestion simply goes one step further.

Each licensing body would collect the extra provincial fees for those in their home jurisdiction and remit same to the other provinces, deducting some sort of fee for handling the transactions. No government jobs lost. Each province would serve its own residents’ needs only.

Quebec would likely be a big stumbling block given “extra provincial licensing” is all but a farce. A firm must have a “bricks and mortar” office with files and staff in Quebec. I said that’s absurd, as nobody outside Quebec can qualify. The logic is that I could apply as non-resident if the firm that employs me has an office there already. That would seem to work for the national brokers, but it makes it all but impossible for smaller brokers to qualify. A very hostile jurisdiction. I can’t see the AMF ceding any authority to any other province.

However, if the other provinces demand it (or threaten to retaliate by imposing similar rules on Quebec brokers), perhaps it might change.

Provinces could agree on a common approach to expiry date/renewal. Could go continuous, or adopt a specific date or perhaps dates throughout the year, similar to how we renew licence plates for vehicles. Doesn’t matter which option, just have them all the same.

Regards, Doug Poole, CIP, President, Hugh Wood Canada Ltd.

Licence to Kill, Editorial, March 2010

Competition keeps us sharp

Dear Romana,

I agree with you 100%. It’s time for a national licence. Provincial protectionism no longer works.

As a broker in Ontario, with a website and several programs available, we often get quote requests from all provinces. Why should we not be able to compete? Competition keeps us all sharper!

Carry on.

Regards, Brian Lazarus All-Risks Insurance Brokers Limited,

Re: Bob vs the Banks, October 2009

Flaherty Says No to Banks, Again

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is once again warning banks against selling insurance on websites.

Flaherty scheduled meetings with bank executives at the beginning of May, with plans to broach this subject during those meetings. In statements made at the end of April, Flaherty reaffirmed his government’s commitment to ensure that banks do not sell insurance through their websites.

This decade-old issue became a top industry priority in June 2009, when brokers across the country reported print and online advertising being distributed by bank branches regarding the sale of P&C policies. The issue reached parliament when, in October 2009, the federal government attempted to resolve it by clearly stating that insurance sold through bank websites was a violation of the Bank Act.

In October 2009, Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine profiled Robert King, principal of B.C.-based GNK Insurance Services. In June 2009, King launched a successful e-mail campaign to stop his local bank branches from distributing promotional material, which is in direct violation of the Bank Act.

Do you have a bank-selling-insurance story? Tell your story by e-mailing Daryl Angier (

© Copyright 2010 Rogers Publishing Ltd. These letters first appeared in the May 2010 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.