July 22, 2020 by David Gambrill
A former broker who has vowed never to return to the insurance industry has been ordered to pay a $5,000 civil fine for claiming to be a CE instructor when he had not in fact taught the course he claimed he had.
Sean Ronson Nethercott was formerly a Level 2 general insurance broker and a life insurance agent. The Alberta Insurance Council (AIC), the province’s broker regulator, conducted an audit of his CE credits in June 2019 and asked for proof that he had taken a course that he had reported taking on Oct. 1, 2018.
“While you did provide us with the CE certificate for this course for Sept. 23, 2016; you declared that you completed the course…again on Oct. 1, 2018,” council wrote to Nethercott. “Accordingly, it is the Oct. 1, 2018 certificate that we are looking for at this time….Further, please confirm whether or not you are [a] certified instructor for this course.”
Council sought to validate Nethercott’s instructor status because course instructors are allowed to declare double the amount of CE hours towards the completion of the course. The regulator ultimately found that Nethercott had received twice the amount of CE credits by indicating himself as a course provider within the AIC licensing system.
While waiting for Nethercott’s confirmation of his instructor status, the council communicated with the registrar of the course on Nov. 12, 2019. Council asked the registrar whether the former broker was an instructor of the Oct. 1, 2018, course, or had even instructed that course at any time.
“No Sean was not one of the…instructors or faculty members,” the registrar responded. “Sean was never at any time one of [redacted from the decision] instructor.”
On that basis, council ruled that Nethercott has deliberately attempted to deceive the regulator about the number of his CE credits. Brokers must demonstrate to the regulator each year that they have completed a certain number of CE credits to prove that they are keeping up their professional development.
“The former agent did not dispute that he claimed a course that he did not complete during a licensed period,” council’s ruling in the matter observes. “The former agent also declared himself a course provider, indicating that he taught the course. The former agent agrees that he did not instruct the course….The council finds that the former agent has deliberately deceived or mislead the AIC on his renewal application, to claim the benefit of duplicate credits.”
Notwithstanding the council’s findings, Nethercott bristled at the suggestion that he had deliberately misled Alberta’s broker regulator about the CE credits he had claimed. He noted that he had received his renewed license before the Alberta broker informed him about its concerns raised during a June 2019 audit.
“The [council disciplinary investigation] report claims that a concern was identified in a June [2019 audit], however, it was more than 90 days later that I was contacted by the AIC about this concern,” Nethercott had written to council in his defence. “During that time my licence was renewed, and no mention was made of the ‘concern?’ This is obviously because I had more than enough CE credits to renew as was verified in the audit, which is why [the investigator] was directed back to the auditor. Furthermore, since I had not been licensed for months at the time, it is clear that this entire line of questioning was moot.”
Nethercott told council that he would not be appealing its findings. “I have no interest in returning to the insurance industry, and am not interested in contesting this beyond the erroneous finding that there was some sort of intentional deceit that would have allowed a renewal under false pretenses,” he submitted to council. “As noted above, I had far more CE hours than necessary in each year for my licences, and did not have to ‘make up’ false CE credits to meet these requirements.”
Feature image courtesy of iStock/imaginima