Certification: At the Heart of the Profession
The Act respecting the distribution of financial products and services (ARDFPS) stipulates that “no person may act as or purport to be a representative without holding the appropriate certificate issued by the Authority.”1 The Act also says that “representatives pursue their activities in the sectors or classes of sectors in which they are authorized to act by a certificate issued by the Authority.”2 Nevertheless, the Office of the Syndic of the ChAD continues to see cases of members who work in a class of sector for which they are not certified.
Even more surprisingly, despite having committed a serious violation of the ARDFPS, these members defend themselves by asserting that the services they rendered were satisfactory and that no member of the public was harmed. What would the public think of a dentist who successfully performs abdominal surgeries? For that matter, what possible reason could justify trivializing the expertise of a damage insurance professional?
The Discipline Committee of the ChAD has ruled a number of times on this type of offence. Let us look at two recent decisions.
CERTIFIED FOR PERSONAL-LINES INSURANCE, PURSUING ACTIVITIES IN COMMERCIAL LINES3
A 2015 investigation, conducted by the Office of the Syndic of the ChAD, revealed that a broker certified in personal-lines damage insurance had been providing service to a large number of commercial clients. Furthermore, the investigation showed that this violation had already been noted in 2012 during an inspection of the firm where he was employed. Despite the recommendation of the ChAD’s Inspection Department and the broker’s formal commitment to cease such activities, he nevertheless continued working in commercial lines, but did not earn the required certification; he had thus continued to commit an offence under the ARDFPS, as was revealed during a second inspection in 2013.
A formal complaint against the broker in question was filed before the Discipline Committee of the ChAD. It contained nine charges, seven of which concerned the unauthorized practice of commercial-lines insurance from 2008 to 2014.
In 2016, the Discipline Committee of the ChAD found the respondent guilty of all charges. He was fined $2,000 per charge of unauthorized practice, for a total of $14,000.
A PERSONAL-LINES CLAIMS ADJUSTER HANDLES COMMERCIAL CLAIMS
More recently, the Office of the Syndic of the Chad investigated a claims adjuster who handled commercial-lines claims although he was only certified in personal-lines claims adjustment. The investigation revealed that in 2013 and 2014, the adjuster handled six commercial-lines claims files.
In the wake of the investigation, a formal complaint against the professional was filed before the Discipline Committee of the ChAD. The complaint contained seven charges, six of which concerned his unauthorized claims adjustment practice.
In 2016, the Discipline Committee of the ChAD found the respondent guilty of five charges related to his commercial-lines insurance practice.4 The respondent was sentenced to being struck off the roll for 30 days for one of the charges and 60 days for the other, fined $3,000 for a third charge and he received a reprimand for each of the other charges.5
The Discipline Committee of the ChAD had this to say about the offence:
Acting in a class of sector for which one is not authorized to act is an offence that has a direct impact on the protection of the public;
This type of offence must be sanctioned by imposing a period of strike off the roll in order to show that such a practice cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. [Unofficial translation]
Damage insurance professionals working in a class of sector for which they are not certified directly endanger the protection of the public. Professional certification is the foundation of a professional’s right to practice. To become certified, the professional must complete a full training programme and undergo rigorous, standardized evaluation to demonstrate that he has acquired the requisite knowledge. To maintain his certification, the professional must fulfill his obligations, which include keeping his expertise up to date by participating in professional development activities. Failing to hold proper certification is more than simply an offence under the current legislation; it also shows that the individual has failed to acknowledge the importance of having the proper attitude and skills to perform reserved activities.
Thus, whether or not the insured was harmed due to unauthorized practice, it is more than likely that the professional will be sanctioned by the Discipline Committee of the ChAD. There is a reason that all professionals must be certified.
By Me Marie-Josée Belhumeur, LL.B., syndic
1. Act respecting the distribution of financial products and services, section 12.
2. Id., section 13.
3. Chambre de l’assurance de dommages v. De Pretis, 2016 CanLII 23189 (QC CDCHAD)
4. Chambre de l’assurance de dommages v. Guay, 2016 CanLII 83233 (QC CDCHAD)
5. Chambre de l’assurance de dommages v. Guay, 2017 CanLII 25958 (QC CDCHAD)