November 10, 2016 by Angela Stelmakowich, Editor
The Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario (RIBO) has embarked on a major overhaul of its spot check program with the twin goals of promoting better consumer protection and improved broker risk management, says Norma Hitchlock, RIBO’s outgoing president.
While the existing program – which involves visiting a brokerage every three to five years – has focused primarily “on compliance with its financial and trust fund requirements,” the idea is to now also get a pulse of conduct requirements, 2015-2016 president Hitchlock suggested during RIBO’s 2016 Annual General Meeting in downtown Toronto Thursday.
“RIBO has commenced a comprehensive review to consider which broker ‘conduct’ requirements and expectations should also be reviewed during the ‘spot check’,” she said. The thrust of the expanded review – which is “being rolled out as I speak today” – is to promote better consumer protection and broker risk management,” she noted.
The effort is just one of a number meant to enhance consumer service and protection.
For example, Hitchlock said, RIBO developed and posted on its website a best practices guide to communicate expectations for brokers in serving client needs and coverage options.
The guide was released in advance of the June 1 effective date of Ontario’s latest round of auto reforms, which focused on coverages available for consumers under the statutory accident benefits portion of the automobile policy, she explained.
Other bulletins issued over the course of the year included one regarding the prohibition of negative billing. “Although the catalyst was changes by most insurers to overland water coverages, the underlying concept applied equally to auto renewals,” Hitchlock told attendees.
RIBO bulletins “continue to reiterate that brokers must effectively communicate with their clients regarding their ongoing insurance need and present appropriate coverage options,” she emphasized. “Of course, brokers must ensure that client files clearly and accurately reflect these discussions and client instructions,” she said.
RIBO has also commenced a review of the Registered Insurance Brokers Act – legislation that Hitchlock said has proved “surprisingly robust” in light of the many changes in the brokerage market environment over the last 35 years – and it corresponding regulations.
The aim is to “identify opportunities to update them, as necessary,” she said.
Calling her time as RIBO president both a pleasure and a privilege, Hitchlock said the experience afforded her the ability to meet members around the province.
“The ability to discuss issues of concern ‘face to face’ is invaluable and I am confident that ours remains a customer-focused and thoughtful profession,” she said.
In fact, as the end of July, RIBO had reached its highest-ever membership at 18,928 individual brokers and 1,147 registered firms.
At 3,458, total examinations written also hit a record high. In line with the full pipeline of new registrants, Hitchlock said, “enhancements to the online renewal user interface have been successfully implemented,” and results made available in an electronic format.
“Council and staff are well-aware that RIBO must always look ahead in order to remain relevant in an ever-changing marketplace,” Hitchlock pointed out.
“We must continue to be a transparent, fair and progressive regulator, both for the public and the membership,” she emphasized.