Your insurance broker owes a duty to you as a customer. As a consumer, you have the right to professional advice from a broker who is well informed about the products they are selling and a right to be treated with fairness and integrity.
Being informed will help protect your interests and ensure that you get the coverage you need. when from RIBO licensed insurance brokers.
Consumer Rights and Obligations
- Broker Compensation – You have the right to ask how a broker is paid, the insurance companies they represent, and if there are any potential conflicts of interest. All RIBO licensed brokers must provide their clients a commission disclosure letter that outlines this information.
- How Insurance Works – You have the right to be informed about how insurance works and how your insurance premiums are calculated. You can access your policy and be clearly informed about the coverage and the claims settlement process.
- Insurance Claim – If you need to file a claim, you have the right to be informed of the procedures and timelines for settling your claim and the status of your claim. If your claim is denied, you also have the right to be informed why it was denied.
- Personal Information – You have the right to understand how your personal information will be used and be protected. Ask for a copy of the privacy statement from your broker and the insurer.
- Understand Your Insurance Needs – You should consider your insurance needs and prepare relevant questions before you talk to a broker. Make sure you provide a detailed explanation of your circumstances to your broker so that he or she can provide informed recommendations that meet your needs.
- Consumer Obligations – You need to ensure that you know and understand your obligations under your insurance policy. For example, your policy will require you to provide updates to your broker and insurer regarding any material changes in your circumstances.
Finding a Broker
Finding the right insurance broker for you can be challenging but you can find local brokers at www.ontariobrokers.ca/
Please note that RIBO does not offer any specific recommendations about individual brokers or brokerages.
Check Whether Your Broker or Brokerage is Licensed
All insurance brokers and brokerages in Ontario are required to be licensed by RIBO. RIBO maintains a searchable public registry of insurance brokers and brokerages so you check whether or not they are currently licensed.
You can search for brokers by their first or last name, and/or their license number. Make sure to double-check that the broker is employed at the same firm as indicated on the public registry.
You can search for brokerages by the firm’s name to see whether their registration is in good standing.
Dealing With Your Insurance Broker
The following list outlines some considerations and tips to help protect your interests:
- Beware of insurance premium quotes that appear too good to be true.
- Shop around and educate yourself about the range your premiums are likely to fall within.
- A quote that is significantly lower may be a red flag and you should be encouraged to ask questions to adequately compare what coverage you are purchasing.
- Premium quotes are only estimates. Premiums are only confirmed by the broker when binding your coverage.
- You have the right to be fully and clearly informed about your insurance policy.
- Ask your broker about what your insurance policy covers, what it costs, how these costs are calculated, payment options, and how to maintain coverage.
- Ensure that you understand what is not covered under the policy, and what other options exist for you to ensure you have adequate protection against those other risks.
Review Your Policy
- Carefully review your contract for anything you may have missed or any incorrect information. Inaccuracies can result in you not having adequate coverage in the event of a claim or your insurance policy being cancelled for misrepresentation or non-disclosure. This can also impact your ability to purchase coverage in the future or increase your premiums.
- Ask the broker to provide you with a copy of the policy wording, if possible. Some policies have standard wordings (such as an Ontario Automobile Policy), while others like home, commercial and liability policies have different wordings, conditions, and exclusions. If the broker is unable to provide a copy of the wording before the policy is issued, review the wording and exclusions immediately after receiving the policy.
- Ask your broker any questions you might have or any terms you want to be clarified.
Paying Your Broker or Insurance Company
- Payment of premiums can be in the form of cheque, pre-authorized debit from your bank account, or credit card.be Cash payments should be avoided.
- No matter how you pay your broker, it is vital that you receive an accurate record of the payment.
- Payments should be made to either the brokerage or insurance company, never to the individual broker.
- Typically, you will pay monthly premiums to your insurance company directly and if you need to change your monthly payment withdrawal date you can contact the billing department of the insurance company.
- You are entitled to a partial refund of your premiums, minus any service charges, if you cancel or change your policy
- Non-payment of premiums may result in policy cancellation or NSF fees being applied. Please contact the insurance company you are paying to resolve these issues.
- Every registered insurance broker must meet certain qualification standards and continuing education requirements, established by RIBO’s Qualification and Registration Committee. This helps ensure that brokers have the skills they need to provide advice and best serve consumers.
- All RIBO brokerages are required to maintain a Fidelity Bond which is designed to provide consumers coverage in the unlikely event that a broker mishandles consumer premiums.
- Insurance brokers must be bonded and covered under an Errors & Omissions insurance policy.
- If you are not satisfied with the service, you have received or if you experience sustained problems with your broker or brokerage, we encourage you to contact your brokerage.
- If you believe a broker has not followed RIBO standards,
You can file a complaint here: https://www.ribo.com/complaints/
For more information, you can visit the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s website for resources, including its financial toolkit and tips for buying insurance: https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/financial-toolkit/insurance/insurance-3/6.html
You can also visit The Insurance Bureau of Canada’s Insurance 101 page to learn more about the basics of insurance and what kinds of coverages exist: http://www.ibc.ca/on/insurance-101