The Saskatchewan minister of justice and attorney general has introduced Bill 177, which will implement the new Insurance Act and repeal the Saskatchewan Insurance Act.(1) Bill 177 was read by the legislative assembly of Saskatchewan for the first time on December 4 2014. The proposed act is similar to Alberta's insurance legislation. If Bill 177 passes the next two readings and receives royal assent, it will come into force on proclamation.

The proposed act is comprised of 11 parts, which deal with the following issues:

  • preliminary matters;
  • licensing of insurers;
  • provincial companies;
  • fraternal societies;
  • insurance intermediaries and insurance councils;
  • unsolicited insurance, reinsurance and special brokers;
  • market conduct;
  • contracts of insurance;
  • inspections, investigations, enforcement and administration;
  • general provisions; and
  • repeal, consequential amendments, transitional and entry into force.

Among the newly expanded definitions, of note is that a person is "carrying on the business of insurance" if that person "solicits, negotiates, provides, promotes, advertises, markets, sells or distributes any contract of insurance by any means that cause communication from the insurer or the insurer's agents or representatives to reach a person in Saskatchewan".

The proposed act includes significant changes to address market conduct and unfair practices. For example, insurers and intermediaries are prohibited from tying and from inducing prospective customers through direct or indirect payments, allowances or gifts. If an insurer, insurance intermediary or adjuster is notified of a loss and recommends a service to the insured, it must advise the insured in writing that the insured may choose any service provider. Insurers must give written notice to claimants as to the limitation periods applicable to their claims within a prescribed notice period.

Another aspect of Bill 177 that constitutes an important change is the addition of insurance compliance self-evaluative audits. The self-evaluative provisions are similar to those in the Alberta insurance legislation. An insurer must conduct a self-evaluative audit when it is requested to do so by the superintendent of insurance. The self-evaluative audit is privileged and will not be admissible in a civil or administrative proceeding unless privilege is expressly waived by the insurer.

If Bill 177 is passed by the legislative assembly of Saskatchewan, there are transitional provisions that address implementation of the Insurance Act. Investigations, actions, proceedings and orders under the former act will be continued under the new Insurance Act. Licences issued under the former act will continue on the same terms and conditions until expired, amended, cancelled or renewed under the new act.

For further information on this topic please contact Carol Lyons at McMillan LLP by telephone (+1 416 865 7000) or email (carol.lyons@mcmillan.ca). The McMillan LLP website can be accessed at www.mcmillan.ca.

Samantha Gordon, student at law, assisted with the preparation of this update.

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