Canadian insurance regulators are set to begin sharing more information between jurisdictions as a step toward better co-ordination in the regulation of the insurance industry, the Canadian Council of Insurance Regulators (CCIR) announced on Monday.
The CCIR, a national association of Canadian life insurance regulators, has unveiled details of a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) that has been signed by the insurance regulators in four provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. The MOU sets out the terms for co-operation and exchange of information across provincial and territorial jurisdictions.
"[The MOU] creates an environment in which we can work together and put our information and resources together," said Patrick Déry, chairman of the CCIR and superintendent of solvency at the Autorité des marchés financiers.
The information that insurance regulators share under the new MOU will relate primarily to the solvency and market conduct of insurance industry firms that carry on business in more than one province or territory, Déry said. It will allow for more consistent handling of consumer complaints, more effective risk surveillance and greater collaboration in addressing market conduct issues.
"If we find problems, we can then act together on them instead of doing it on a province-by-province basis," Déry said. "From our perspective as regulators, it will make it easier for us to do our job."
The MOU also sets out specific protocols for ensuring the protection of confidential information.
Déry expects the remaining provincial insurance regulators to sign on to the new MOU in the coming months.
The MOU is part of a broader CCIR initiative to create a harmonized framework for market conduct regulation and supervision for the life insurance industry in Canada that will eventually replace the fragmented system that's currently in place.
"One of the important building blocks of this initiative is to have a modern agreement among provincial regulators for sharing information," Déry said.
In addition to creating a more efficient regulatory system, greater harmonization would benefit investment industry players by providing consistent standards and compliance requirements across the country, Déry said.
"From the industry's point of view," he noted, "they will have the impression of working with one set of rules and a team of regulators that will work together."