On September 9, 2009, most of Quebec's new Regulation under the Act respecting insurance came into force. Replacing the former Regulation respecting the application of the Act respecting insurance, which was originally adopted in 1982, the new regulation implements a number of important regulatory changes, including simplified disclosure requirements and harmonization with certain parts of other Canadian provincial insurance regimes. The key regulatory changes include the following.

Classes of insurance

The definitions of different classes of insurance have been harmonized with certain other Canadian jurisdictions and now correspond to the classes agreed in 2002 by the Canadian Council of Insurance Regulators. (Sections 11 to 28)

Information on application for license

The information to be supplied when applying for an insurance licence has also been amended. Among other things, insurers must now include information respecting: (i) the sales methods to be used; (ii) the training that will be provided to staff; and (iii) how claim settlement services will be organized. (Section 30)

Market conduct disclosure

Disclosure requirements for commercial practices and conditions of insurance contracts have been simplified. There are now five general obligations to which insurers are subject, being: (i) insurers must accurately disclose their identity and may not use phrases or identification marks that could cause confusion; (ii) an "insurance offer" (an undefined term) may not exaggerate the extent of protection or minimize the associated costs; (iii) an insurer must specify whether an advertised claim that no prior medical examination is required applies to the application for insurance or to the payment of benefits; (iv) coverage limitations resulting from pre-existing health conditions must be disclosed; and (v) an insurance offer may not make false claims respecting special protection or advantages. We understand that the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) will be publishing guidelines respecting the above obligations in the near future. (Section 34 to 37)

Permitted subsidiaries

Permitted subsidiaries of a Quebec-incorporated insurer now include (among others): (i) firms providing travel, legal and road assistance when complementary to insurance distribution; (ii) companies involved in purchasing, managing or leasing real estate; (iii) firms under the Act respecting the distribution of financial products and services; and (iv) entities operating residential and long-term care centres. There are restrictions, however, on the investments that may be made by subsidiaries. (Sections 38 to 40)

Trust company powers

The trust company powers of Quebec-incorporated insurers are now prescribed and an insurer is authorized to act as a trustee for: (i) registered savings or retirement plans; (ii) investment funds; and (iii) annuities, if these are administered by the insurer. (Section 44)

Group insurance

The group insurance rules have been substantially revised. The changes include (i) the expansion of the meaning of "group" to cover accident and sickness insurance in addition to life insurance, including coverage of families and dependants (Sections 59 and 60); (ii) new rules for the conversion of a group life insurance policy to an individual life insurance contract (Sections 62 and 93); and (iii) limits for creditor's group insurance. (Section 79)

Fees

The Tariff of fees payable to the AMF and the Ministry has been updated and consolidated. (Section 88)