Your Rights and Responsibilities

Buying life insurance is a big decision and you deserve to feel confident that you are getting the right product for you and your loved ones. In Ontario, life insurance is sold by insurance companies and agents that are licensed by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO). Visit Licensed Insurance Companies in Ontario or Agents licensed in Ontario to find an insurance agent or company to work with.

 

If an insurance agent or company is licensed by FSCO that means safeguards are in place to protect your rights, but you need to be aware of your responsibilities too.

 

Your Rights

 

Life insurance companies have obligations and responsibilities to you, the buyer. They must:

 

  • fulfil their responsibilities to you and follow through on their promises outlined in the insurance contract; and
  • be licensed by FSCO and comply with the law.

 

Life insurance agents also have obligations and responsibilities. They are required to:

 

  • be licensed by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario to sell life insurance in Ontario;
  • comply with the Ontario Insurance Act [New Window] and regulations;
  • disclose to you in writing the names of providers of financial products, services, and insurers that they represent;
  • disclose to you in writing any conflicts of interest that they may have; and
  • have errors & omissions insurance (E&O) so that you are protected if they are negligent or make errors selling you an insurance product.

 

In addition to legal requirements, insurance agents should follow industry best practices. They should:

 

  • provide a letter of engagement that describes the services you can expect from them during and after the sales transaction;
  • provide written information about the products that they are recommending to you;
  • ensure that a licensed agent is always available for consultation during business hours;
  • provide their contact information, license number, and other information that you request;
  • provide a copy of your application form and contract for your own storage;
  • explain how your policy will work and recommend options based on your needs before you buy a policy;
  • provide a clear statement of the insurance policy, its limitations, exclusions and terms;
  • provide clear indication of which features and benefits are guaranteed, and which are not;
  • allow you to change your mind and ask for a full refund at least 10 days and in some cases 20 days of receiving your policy. (This is called a rescission right);
  • review your life situation and circumstances and recommend necessary changes, during the life of the policy;
  • keep records of your discussions; and
  • help your beneficiary make a claim when the time comes.

 

Your responsibilities

 

  • Ask your insurance agent or company to explain how the policy they are recommending meets your needs. Ask questions about anything you do not understand.
  • Check and verify all of the information you provide on your application. Withholding or misrepresenting information could make your policy null and void.
  • Read your application form thoroughly before signing it. Your signature authorizes the insurer to confirm your medical history on a confidential basis.
  • Review the policy thoroughly when it is delivered to you. If the policy is not what you expected speak to the insurance agent or company. If you decide you no longer wish to buy the policy you can change your mind within 10 days, and in some cases you have up to 20 days to change your mind.
  • Ask for a copy of your application form and your contract for your own storage.
  • Keep your policy with your financial papers along with your agent’s name and number. Give a copy to your beneficiaries and let them know where you keep your policy.
  • Pay your premiums on time.
  • Review your insurance needs regularly. Needs may change as your business or family changes.
  • If you have dependants on a life insurance policy, be sure to check they are still insured as they age. Some policies only insure children up to 21 years old.

 

You may be interested in...

 

Working with a Life Insurance Agent or Company: learn more about your agent’s responsibilities and how they can help you.

 

Life Insurance 101 Getting Started: make sure you understand the terminology in your policy.

 

Types of Life Insurance: make sure your policy is the right one for you.

 

Shopping for Life Insurance: get details on how to select an agent and how to comparison shop for life insurance.

 

Financial Literacy Portal: learn more about a variety of financial topics.

 

Glossary: Life Insurance: to better understand common life insurance terms, refer to this glossary.