The Ontario Government passed Bill 15, the Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act, 2014 on November 20, 2014 amending sections of the Insurance Act to improve the agent disciplinary process.
These changes will streamline the disciplinary process and improve consumer protection by ensuring that agents who contravene the Insurance Act will be dealt with in an expeditious manner. These changes also reinforce the positive image and professionalism of insurance agents.
These changes came into force on January 1, 2015.
Under these amendments, agents who are subject to a disciplinary proceeding for contravening the Insurance Act will, if requested, have a hearing before the Financial Services Tribunal (FST). The current process, involving a hearing before an advisory board panel, is being eliminated. Agent disciplinary matters that were commenced by the issuance of a notice of opportunity for a hearing before January 1, 2015 will continue under this previous law and process.
The FST is an adjudicative body established under the Financial Services Commission of Ontario Act, 1997. The Superintendent will continue to investigate allegations against an insurance agent, and if the evidence warrants, issue a Notice of Proposal (NOP) that sets out the allegations, particulars to the support the allegations, proposed regulatory actions and the right to a hearing.
If a hearing is requested in writing within 15 days after the NOP is given, the FST will conduct the hearing and make findings of fact. Following the hearing, the FST may make an order directing the Superintendent to carry out the proposal with or without changes or substitute its opinion for that of the Superintendent. An amendment to the Insurance Act gives the parties the right to appeal the FST’s order to the Divisional Court.
If the agent does not request a hearing within the 15 day time period specified in the NOP, the Superintendent may issue an order carrying out the proposal.
These changes mean that the FST will adjudicate all agent disciplinary matters as well as administrative monetary penalties which were introduced in 2013. The process is in alignment with other sectors regulated by FSCO.
Go to Schedule 3 in Bill 15
for a copy of these amendments.
Important Information for all Life Insurance Agents
For more information