March 19, 2020 by Greg Meckbach
British Columbia’s broker regulator has temporarily its loosened rules governing the workplace location of Level 1 salespeople, allowing them to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The temporary rule change took effect Thursday.
“The Insurance Council of BC shares the concerns of insurance agencies about the impact of agency closures and self-isolation measures on their ability to continue to meet British Columbians’ insurance needs at this crucial time,” the regulator said, alluding to COVID-19, in a statement.
The B.C. government declared Wednesday a state of emergency. More than 200 have tested positive for COVID-19 in B.C. and seven have died, the Canadian Press reported Thursday. Canada-wide, nine have died and there have been more than 700 cases.
Social distancing might have been a problem for brokers had the provincial broker regulator not temporarily changed the rules. Insurance Council of BC Rule 6(1) stipulates that Level 1 salespersons can only work from the office of the agency or brokerage they represent.
With the temporary change, they can now work outside under certain conditions – including six months of Level 1 experience over the past nine months, and completion of the Council Rules Course.
“The temporary suspension of this restriction is aimed at facilitating British Columbians’ ability to continue to obtain insurance with minimal interruption or delay while supporting agencies to enable remote work by employees who are self-isolating to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” a council spokesperson told Canadian Underwriter Wednesday.
Unlike an insurance agent, a Level 1 salesperson in B.C., who is supervised by a Level 2 or 3 broker, cannot sign or deliver an insurance policy. A Level 1 salesperson is an agency employee who can solicit, obtain, or take an application for general insurance, or to negotiate for or procure general insurance, or to collect or receive a premium for general insurance. That level of licence lets you handle personal lines in a brokerage and also visit car dealerships to insure newly purchased vehicles.
Also in B.C., the government-run auto insurer announced that in-person Autoplan services are no longer available at Insurance Corporation of B.C. (ICBC)’s head office.
Several procedures will be temporarily available by phone and email, ICBC said Wednesday.
“Many brokers remain open for business for people who want to visit in-person, or for transactions that cannot be done over the phone, such as vehicle registrations and new policies,” said ICBC.
But renewal, cancellation and policy changes can now be done by phone.
B.C. motorists will also be able to receive insurance transactions by email, submit signatures electronically, submit payments by phone, and receive policy documents by email, ICBC said Wednesday.