Travel insurance advertising: AMF denies it broke the law

By Hubert Roy | December 14 2016 11:30AM

A recent advertising campaign conducted by the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) has raised the eyebrows of a few lawyers.

Lawyers contacted The Insurance and Investment Journal to point out that a recent advertisement broadcast by the AMF violated the province's Act respecting the distribution of financial products and services (Bill 188).

In the ad, which is available here (in French only), the AMF says "it is wise to take out travel insurance when you spend time outside of Quebec." The AMF also offers advice about a number of situations, in particular serious illnesses and coverage available under a group insurance plan or that which is linked to a credit card.

This is all part of the Mes finances en tête [My finances in mind] campaign, in which the AMF invites consumers to conduct a complete overview of their personal finances. It is a component of the Quebec Financial Education Strategy, a major project initiated by the AMF. In addition to travel insurance, the AMF has addressed (among other things) binary options, retirement, and fraud.

The lawyers who spoke with The Insurance and Investment Journal suggest that the AMF is in contravention of Section 12 of Quebec's Act respecting the distribution of financial products and services because it is promoting a travel insurance product. In their view, only a certified representative or a financial institution is authorized to do so.

Section 12 of the legislation reads: "Subject to the provisions of Title VIII, no person may act as or purport to be a representative without holding the appropriate certificate issued by the Authority. However, a financial institution may, by giving out brochures or flyers or using direct mail or any other form of publicity, invite the public to purchase insurance products."

At the AMF, they reject this interpretation. For the regulator, the advertisement "fits exactly" into its mandate of consumer protection. "We do not recommend any specific product in this ad. Instead, we are recommending that consumers evaluate their needs and the appropriate insurance product with the help of a licensed representative," said AMF spokesman Sylvain Théberge in an email to The Insurance and Investment Journal.

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