Consumers should be warned of risks related to online insurance purchases

By Alain Thériault | January 11 2018 01:30PM

Flavio Vani

Adopted as is, Quebec’s Bill 141 will lead to an increase in the number of simplified products sold via the Internet without advice, believes the Quebec financial advisor organization, the Association professionnelle des conseillers en services financiers (APCSF).

The association is highly concerned about this prospect and is recommending that the Quebec government require distributors to place a prominent warning on distributors’ websites about the risks of acquiring an insurance product without the advice of a registered professional.

With respect to Bill 141, the APCSF made its position known in a submission to the Quebec government on Jan. 8. In this submission, the APCSF explained that it wants direct sales of financial products to carry an explicit warning – that they are only for informed consumers.

A warning similar to those on cigarette packages

The submission proposes a warning – similar to those posted on cigarette packages – that the online purchase of insurance products without the advice of a registered professional, who would carry out a complete analysis of the client’s personal financial situation, involves risks "that could have a significant impact on an individual and his family’s financial security…If you are not an informed insurance consumer, the [Quebec regulator] Autorité des marchés financiers recommends that you consult a duly accredited professional..."

An incredible threat

"Unrepresented Internet sales pose an incredible threat to consumers," said Flavio Vani, president and spokesperson for the APCSF, in an interview with The Insurance and Investment Journal. “Insurance products are not only complex in terms of legibility of contracts and guarantees, but also because of the regulatory environment, including taxation."