Heading into the new year, the need to streamline and harmonize insurance regulation across Canada continues to be an industry priority. In this regard, Manitoba continues to roll out its amendments to the Insurance Act(Manitoba), pursuant to Bill 27, the Insurance Amendment Act (Manitoba) (“Bill 27”). The proclamation of Bill 27 is a three staged approached that began on September 1, 2014 and continued on January 1, 2015. The final changes will take effect on March 1, 2015. Overall, these amendments modernize Manitoba’s Insurance Act to bring it in line with existing legislation in other provinces.

A brief outline of the significant changes is provided below.

Restricted Insurance Agent Licensing

We previously issued an e-lert on Manitoba’s proposal to implement restricted insurance agent licensingpublished in 2011. As part of the package of amendments set out in Bill 27, amendments to the Insurance Agents and Adjusters Regulation 389/87 will soon require incidental sellers of insurance to obtain a restricted insurance agent (“RIA”) licence. The final RIA framework is similar to requirements already in place in Alberta and Saskatchewan, with some exceptions. One exception in particular is that unlike in Alberta or Saskatchewan, an RIA holder operating in Manitoba may act as an agent through the employees of another unlicensed entity such as a third party telemarketing firm. The Insurance Council of Manitoba will be monitoring this program closely to ensure compliance with applicable consumer protection and insurance laws.

These changes recently came into force on January 1, 2015, and RIA licences must be obtained before June 1, 2015A copy of the Council’s notice can be found here.

Life and Health Insurance Contract Provisions

Beginning March 1, 2015, Parts V and VI (life insurance and accident and sickness insurance) of the Insurance Act(Manitoba) will be harmonized with virtually all of Alberta’s Insurance Act. For life and health insurance providers carrying on business in both Manitoba and Alberta these amendments will simplify and consolidate certain compliance procedures.

On the other hand, insurers operating in Manitoba but not in Alberta may be subject to additional requirements with respect to the issuance and contents of the policy, statutory conditions, and dealings under the contract. For example, a life or health insurer in Manitoba will soon be required to provide additional disclosure in regard to the timing of any actions brought against it and any restrictions imposed on an insured’s right to designate a beneficiary. Additional amendments clarify an insurer’s rights in the event an applicant fails to disclose certain facts, with specific carve outs available for contracts of group insurance or creditor’s group insurance. The limitation period for actions brought against an insurer for the recovery of insurance money has also been increased, in certain situations, from one year to two years.

Reminder of September 1, 2014 Amendments 

A few of the notable amendments to the Insurance Act (Manitoba) that came into force on September 1, 2014, include the following:

  • Harmonization with many of the provisions in Alberta’s Insurance Act;
  • Consolidation of Part III (Insurance Contracts in Manitoba) and Part IV (Fire) into a new Part III (General Insurance Provisions);
  • Introduction of insurance compliance self-evaluative audits;
  • Changes to the validity of exclusions dealing with the fire peril;
  • Statutory conditions were brought in line with the provisions set out in the Insurance Act (Alberta);
  • Revised dispute resolution procedures;
  • New provisions related to the distribution and use of electronic documents;
  • Consumer protection enhancements; and
  • Replacement of Manitoba’s previous 28 classes of insurance with the 17 classes of insurance under the federalInsurance Companies Act.