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Bulletin | Covid-19

COVID-19 Response: Measures Affecting Insurers, Agents and Brokers

Fasken
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Financial Services Bulletin

Governments and insurance regulators at both the provincial[1] and federal[2] levels have announced a number of measures in response to the economic disruption and uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are the key announcements made to date that are relevant to insurers, agents and brokers.

Essential Services

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of provincial governments have ordered the closure of all "non-essential" businesses. To date, the provinces that have done so include Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island. Each of these provinces include at least some type of insurance services on their lists of "essential" businesses. For example, in Ontario[3], "insurance" generally is included on the list of essential workplaces, in Quebec[4], "insurance (telephone services)" is included on the list of essential services, in Alberta[5], "all forms of insurance including brokerage" is on the list of essential services, in Manitoba[6] "a business that provides insurance services, and includes the adjustment of insurance claims" is on the list of essential businesses, in Saskatchewan[7], "insurance services" is on the list of allowable business services, and in Prince Edward Island[8], "insurance" is on the list of essential services.

In addition to those provinces that have ordered the closure of all "non-essential" businesses, some other provinces have also placed restrictions on how businesses can operate during this time. For example, in British Columbia, a business that has not been specifically ordered to close and that is not on the list of essential services "may stay open if they can adapt their services and workplace to the orders and recommendations of the [Provincial Health Officer]". In British Columbia, "insurance assessment and adjudication providers" is on the list of essential services[9]. Newfoundland and Labrador has also ordered the closure of specific businesses[10]. For further information regarding the closure of non-essential businesses, please see our bulletin "Government Orders Closing Businesses – Province by Province".

Changes to Reporting Requirements

Several deadlines with respect to reporting requirements have been extended, including those set out in the table below. In certain cases, federal and provincial regulators may also be willing to provide additional flexibility regarding the deadlines for certain regulatory filings.

Regulator 

Reporting Requirement 

Extension 

OSFI 

IFRS 17 semi-annual progress reports

Suspended until further notice

AMF 

For approvals to riders of insurance policies relating to the ownership or use of motor vehicles

Deadline of June 1, 2020 is canceled

AMF 

Filing of automobile rate manual

Deadline of April 1, 2020 is extended to June 30, 2020

AMF 

Filing of the financial condition testing report

Deadline of May 31, 2020 is extended to September 30, 2020

AMF 

Filing of the earthquake exposure data form

Deadline of April 15, 2020 is extended to May 31, 2020

FCNB 

Onsite compliance review

Suspended

Services NL 

Annual filing

Suspended

RIBO 

Form 1 position report

Extended to April 30, 2020

ICM 

Continuing education reporting

Deadline is extended to May 31, 2021 for all licensed agents

BCFSA 

Personal information return

Extended by 30 days

BCFSA 

World-wide annual financial statements

Extended by 60 days (until July 31, 2020)

BCFSA 

IFRS 17 progress reports

Suspended until further notice

All Regulators 

Annual statement on market conduct

Extended to July 1, 2020

Financial Assistance

Some regulators have announced financial assistance measures in order to support insurers and insurance agencies during this time. The financial assistance measures that have been announced so far are set out in the table below.

Regulator 

Measure 

OSFI, AMF 

 

 

Loans repayment deferrals 

Where payment deferrals for mortgage loans, leases or other loans are granted by insurers due to COVID-19, such loans and leases will continue to be treated as performing assets under OSFI's Life Insurance Capital Adequacy Test (LICAT) guideline.

Such treatment will remain in place for the duration of the payment deferral, up to a maximum of six months. Insurers granting payment deferrals may be subject to additional reporting requirements.

Similar measures have been adopted by the AMF with respect to capital requirements applicable to Québec-chartered life insurers.

OSFI, AMF 

Premium deferrals 

Payment deferrals for insurance premiums approved by insurers due to COVID-19 will not result in the related assets being subject to higher credit risk factors per OSFI's LICAT, Minimum Capital Test (MCT) and Mortgage Insurer Capital Adequacy Test (MICAT) guidelines.

Such treatment is applicable to installment premiums receivable (not yet due), receivables outstanding less than 60 days, and receivables outstanding 60 days or more, provided that the receipt of payment is in accordance with the deferral terms and conditions. It applies to receivables from agents and brokers to the extent premiums flow through them.

This treatment of receivables applies for the duration of the premium payment deferral, up to a maximum of six months. Insurers granting payment deferrals may be subject to additional reporting requirements.

Similar measures have been adopted by the AMF with respect to capital requirements applicable to Québec-chartered life insurers.

OSFI, AMF 

Interest rate risk 

Change in LICAT methodology: the interest rate risk requirement for a par block in any given quarter will be equal to the average of the current requirement for the block, and the requirements over the five previous quarters (i.e., the rolling average over six quarters).

Insurers may determine interest rate risk requirements for par at Q1 2020 using either the current LICAT requirements or the rolling averages. Beginning in Q2 2020, the rolling average approach will become mandatory, and will remain in place until OSFI communicates otherwise.

Similar measures have been adopted by the AMF with respect to capital requirements methodology applicable to Québec-chartered life insurers.

FSRA 

Fee assessments payable under FSRA's Fee Rule 2019-01 are being deferred. In addition, invoices that have already been issued to insurance brokers for F2020-21 are being withdrawn.

Sectors will be advised 15 days prior to F2020-21 invoices being issued, and until such invoices are issued, FSRA will be deferring collection of any F2020-21 fee assessments.

Government of Nova Scotia 

Deferral until June 30, 2020 of licence fee payments for insurance agents and insurers.

Agent and Broker Licensing and Registration Requirements

To support agents and brokers during this time, provincial regulators have announced changes to certain regulatory requirements. Some of the changes announced by each regulator are set out in the table below.

Regulator 

Announcement 

AMF 

Representatives whose licences were scheduled to be renewed on March 31, 2020 now have until May 31, 2020, and those scheduled for April 30, 2020 now have until June 30, 2020.

All firms scheduled to have their maintenance of registration  on May 1, 2020 will now have until September 1, 2020, subject to presenting proof of extended liability insurance.

Registrants are not required to disclose their personal residence or the personal residence of their employees as a new registered establishment, regardless of whether working from home constitutes a permanent or temporary measure. 

All exam sessions for career entry have been postponed. Trainees who are required to self-isolate will not have to submit supporting documents in order to extend their probationary period.

FCNB 

Any licence or registration valid as of March 16, 2020 will remain valid until May 31, 2020 unless suspended by a court or by another authority under an Act of the Province.

Services NL 

There will be no cancellation of licenses during the period of the public health emergency. The Financial Services Regulation Division of Services NL has suspended the processing of applications for new licenses, license renewals and annual filings.

BCIC  

No new exam registrations are being accepted until further notice.

All LLQP exams have been temporarily suspended until April 30, 2020.

For criminal record checks required for licensing applications, if the applicant is unable to obtain a criminal record check through their local municipal police or RCMP location, the council is accepting criminal record checks that are based on information obtained by the Canada Police Information Centre from certain non-police entities.

AIC 

The AIC is updating licensing records to provide licensee with five hours of continuing education for all certificates of authority which they hold.

All examinations have been temporarily suspended. HLLQP certifications will be extended for the length of time that examination services are not available.

Licence renewals will commence May 1, 2020, and the AIC does not anticipate any delays or disruption.

FSRA 

The deadline for licence renewal applications for insurance agents is being extended by 60 days. Additional details will be provided by FSRA once finalized.

RIBO 

Until further notice, exams are not being scheduled or sent to examination centres.

All new registrations and reinstatements are being delayed while the RIBO office is closed.

ICM 

All exams written at the ICM's office have been temporarily suspended.

No new exams registrations are being accepted until further notice, and applicants who have already registered for an exam will be contacted to reschedule.

The ICM is not currently processing any new applications for new level 1 general agent applicants (but reinstatements, amendments and other licensing transactions will continue).

FCAA  

Licensing registration fees should be paid by credit card, and the full amount payable for licence and registration fees are now accepted by credit card.

Other Regulatory Announcements

In addition to the announcements set out above, regulators have also made various other announcements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These announcements include:

Regulator 

Announcement 

OSFI 

OSFI expects insurance companies to halt dividend increases and share buybacks for the time being.

FINTRAC 

FINTRAC has issued a message to reporting entities acknowledging that the impacts of COVID-19 may affect the ability of some businesses to meet their obligations, and has provided guidance regarding the following:[11]

  1. Priority for reporting, and what actions should be taken when a reporting entity is not able to submit a report to FINTRAC in the usual manner.
  2. Verifying identity given that some provincial governments may take measures extending the validity of various identification documents that have expired on or after March 1, 2020.
  3. Record keeping where a reporting entity is not able to meet an obligation.

FINTRAC's interactions with reporting entities will, for now, be limited to situations related to reporting issues, circumstances where reporting entities contact FINTRAC for guidance, and the completion of examinations currently underway. FINTRAC will not be contacting reporting entities to initiate new examinations.

AMF 

Insurance agencies and insurance brokerage firms are required to put into effect and update their business continuity plan and disclose such plan to their representatives, employees and business partners[12].

FCNB  

Insurers have been requested to postpone or hold their annual general meetings virtually.[13]

BCIC  

Annual filings will be done online only, and applications and other forms must be submitted by email only.

There is a temporary suspension of the location restriction on level 1 general insurance salespersons, allowing those who meet certain requirements to work outside of an agency office. 

The BCIC has published guidance for brokers regarding how to best operate in the current market conditions.[14]

BCFSA 

All regulated entities and sectors are required to make fee payments electronically. Documents sent through regular mail should also be sent electronically. For items traditionally provided by registered mail, the entity should reach out to its BCFSA business contact to arrange secure electronic delivery.

FSRA 

FSRA has provided guidance regarding how Ontario-incorporated insurance companies can use electronic forms for holding virtual annual meetings during this pandemic.[15]

The Government of Ontario has also implemented an Emergency Order which provides flexibility for corporate meetings by, for example, in certain circumstances, allowing corporations under the Corporations Act (Ontario) and the Business Corporations Act (Ontario) to hold meetings virtually and extending the timeframe by which corporations must hold their annual meetings.[16]

RIBO 

Scheduled discipline hearings and complaints meetings normally held at RIBO's office are postponed.

RIBO has also emphasized that although brokers may choose to limit personal contact with clients, expectations of professionalism are in no way lessened, and brokers must still service clients in a reasonable manner through email, telephone, text, etc. during this time.

ICM 

Subject to certain conditions, the requirement for level 1 general insurance agents to only work inside the office of a general insurance agency has been temporarily suspended.

Looking Ahead:

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, provinces will likely continue to establish new measures in response.

On April 3, 2020, the Government of Ontario released an updated list of essential businesses and on April 14, 2020 announced that the Declaration of Emergency had been extended until May 12, 2020.  On April 5, 2020, the Province of Québec announced the extension of the order for the closure of all "non-essential" businesses until May 4, 2020. The original end of the closure in the Province of Québec was set on April 13, 2020.

Our team will continue to monitor the impact of such measures on businesses. We invite you to subscribe to our Fasken Knowledge Center for COVID-19 to be notified of our latest updates.


 

[1] Autorité des marchés financiers of Québec ("AMF"), British Columbia Insurance Council ("BCIC"), British Columbia Financial Services Authority ("BCFSA"), Alberta Insurance Council ("AIC"), Saskatchewan Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority ("FCAA"), Insurance Council of Manitoba ("ICM"), Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario ("FSRA"), Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario ("RIBO"), New Brunswick Financial and Consumer Services ("FCNB"), Nova Scotia Finance and Treasury Board, Prince Edward Island Department of Justice and Public Safety and Newfoundland and Labrador Services NL ("Services NL")

[2] Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions ("OSFI") and the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada ("FINTRAC")

[3] For more information, please see: Ontario List of Essential Workplaces

[4] For more information, please see: Québec List of Essential Services and Commercial Activities

[5] For more information, please see: Alberta Essential Services

[6] For more information, please see: Manitoba Public Health Act (PDF)

[7] For more information, please see: Saskatchewan COVID-19 Information for Businesses and Workers

[8] For more information, please see: Essential and Non-Essential Services Information Sheet COVID-19 (PDF)

[9] For more information, please see: British Columbia List of COVID-19 Essential Services

[10] For more information, please see: Newfoundland and Labrador Essential Services (PDF)

[11] Additional information regarding these announcements can be found here: "Message to all reporting entities in light of COVID-19 (March 25, 2020)"

[12] For additional information regarding the business continuity plan of insurance agencies and insurance brokerage firms, please see: "Distribution of financial products and services"

[13] For additional information regarding guidance provided by the Canadian Securities Administrators on annual general meetings, please see: "Diving Deeper: AGM Developments in the Context of COVID-19" 

[14] Additional information regarding this can be found here: ICN 20-001 | Brokering Best Practices (PDF)

[15] Additional information regarding this can be found here: Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario

[16] Additional information regarding this emergency order can be found here: Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act

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