Algoma Financial Group’s Policies

Algoma Financial Group is in the business to provide you with a broad variety of insurance and financial services. To meet your needs and serve you well, Algoma Financial Group need to know about your personal information, the details of which can differ depending on the types of insurance and financial services you require.

You, as an individual, have the right to know how your broker collects, uses and discloses personal information. You have a right to expect that, to the best of our ability, your personal information held by us remains accurate, confidential and secure.

Algoma Financial Group is proud of its reputation in maintaining the confidentiality and security of personal information. We’ve provided this booklet to explain to you how we protect the privacy of individual client’s personal information.

The need for confidentiality

As professional brokers we are committed to holding our clients personal information in strict confidence, and we shall not disclose any such information unless authorized by our clients, required by law to do so or required to do so in conducting negotiations with underwriters or insurers on behalf of the client.

Except as outlined below, a record is kept each time personal information is disclosed, noting the nature of the disclosure, the date of the identity of the party to whom the disclosure was made. Individual records of disclosure are not maintained for regular or routine actions such as transfers of information to insurers, underwriters and claim adjusters.

The Brokerages Privacy Declaration Putting the Client First is based on the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information and the Federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. A copy of the brokerage’s Privacy Declaration is available on request.

The need for trust

Trust comes with confidence. The more you know about us, the more confident you can feel about dealing with Algoma Financial Group. Similarly, the more we know about you, the better we can serve you.

Algoma Financial Group collects and uses information about you for only the following purposes:

  • To understand your needs.
  • To analyze the suitability of our insurance and financial products of services.
  • To determine your eligibility for our products and services that meets your needs.
  • To provide you with ongoing service.
  • To meet our legal and regulatory requirements.
  • To facilitate the underwriting process and insurance claims.

Because it is important that we keep your trust, we will only ask you for information which we need and when we ask you for information, we’ll let you know why we need it.

Subject to legal and contractual requirements, you can refuse to consent to our collection, use or disclosure of information about you, or withdraw your consent to our further collection, use or disclosure of information at any time by giving us reasonable notice.

If you refuse or withdraw your consent to the collection, use or disclosure of information about you, we may not be able to provide or continue to provide you with some products, services or information of value to you.

With your consent and where the laws allow, a broker may change your personal information (other than health information) with other brokers within the brokerage so that they may directly tell you about their products and services.

The need for accuracy

While Algoma Financial Group tries to ensure that the information we hold about is accurate, complete and up-to-date, it is in your obligation to inform your broker, promptly of a change of name, address or any other relevant information.

If you believe that personal factual information in your records may be inaccurate, we make it easy for you to access, verify and update it. If information has been provided to third parties, we will convey the corrected information to them, if necessary.

If we do not agree to change your personal information, you may challenge out decision. We will make a record of this challenge and, if necessary disclose the challenge to third parties who also possess the information.

The need for access

To review the personal information, which Algoma Financial Group’s has about you, simply notify your broker. Basic personal information can be verified on the spot, at no charge. If you wish to review more extensive information, you’ll be asked to provide details regarding the nature of the information you wish to check.

The information will be obtained from our files and will normally be provided within 30 days of your request. There may be a charge for retrieving this information, in which case you will be notified in advance and may, if you like, withdraw your request. You may also challenge the reasonableness of charge.

Sometimes we may not provide you with information about you that is within our control. This can occur if your right of access is constrained pursuant to the provisions of the Federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

For example, we will not provide you with personal information in our control if:

  • It would reveal personal information about another party and your personal information cannot be separated.
  • The information is subject to solicitor/client or litigation privilege
  • It contains the brokerage’s confidential commercial or proprietary information, or if it cannot be disclosed for legal reasons
  • If the information is used for the detection and prevention of criminal activity and dealings in the proceeds of crime.

If we deny your request for access to personal information, you will be told why, unless prohibited by law. You may challenge that decision.

Once you have the information, all you have to do is check it for accuracy and let us know if there are any corrections required. We will correct our records or make note of any differences. If information has been provided to third parties, we will convey the corrected information or the note of any differences to them, if necessary.

The need for security

Every Brokerage employee, as a condition of employment, takes responsibility for protecting client privacy, confidentiality and security. This obligation remains in effect even after an employee leaves the Brokerage.

Suppliers of service to the brokerage such as software vendors are required to sign contracts obligating them to protect the privacy and confidentiality of personal information provided to them to enable them to perform their function.

Appropriate controls are in place over computer systems and data processing procedures and these controls are reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure compliance with our security and privacy policies.

The brokerage destroys or erases any personal information when it is no longer needed. When information is destroyed or erased, the brokerage takes care that there is no unauthorized access.

In short, our people are committed, and our systems are designed, to protect your privacy and confidentiality.

Understanding Broker Compensation

Given recent articles questioning the normal practices in the insurance industry, the Insurance Brokers of Canada has created this brief Q and A summary to clarify for insurance consumers the current practices in Canada.

What is in an Insurance Broker?

Insurance Brokers are independent business people who buy insurance on behalf of their clients. They are the insurance consumers’ advocates, championing the need to offer a choice of insurance products and services that are affordable, available, and understandable. Their role is to provide consumers with the best insurance value.

How do Insurance Brokers decide what insurance contracts (policies) to recommend to their clients?

There are hundreds of companies offering Property and Casualty insurance in Canada. Brokers identify companies in which they have confidence and with whom they are able to develop a working relationship. Their primary goal is to consider product, service and price in order to make the best possible recommendation to their clients so that their clients can make informed decisions about their decisions about their insurance protection. The recommendation brokers make is based solely on the attributes of the insurance product or service and the needs of their clients.

How are Insurance Brokers normally compensated?

Brokers’ compensation comes primarily from commissions on the insurance purchases they make on behalf of their clients. In many insurance transactions, commissions on the purchase are the only compensation that the broker receives. This compensation may vary province to province to province; for example some provinces may include service fees. Contingent commissions on the entire group of clients the broker places with an insurer can also be part of the broker’s compensation.

What are contingent commissions?

Contingent commissions are not guaranteed. This form of compensation is paid by insurance companies in recognition of the quality of the business placed with the company. This compensation is based on specific criteria in the brokerage contract that recognizes the value of the insurance broker in helping the company grow and remain financially sound. This value is generally measured over a multi year period. Professional brokers focus on doing the best job possible for their clients. The factors that ultimately determine contingency payment do not enter into the recommendation of the product and service provided.

Do the terms of contingent commission agreements cause brokers to “steer” their clients into unfavorable insurance placements?

No. Reputable insurance brokers keep the interest of their clients uppermost in all their dealings. This is the way to build sounds business relationships.

How can consumers find out how their brokers are compensated?

Ask your broker! It’s that simple. Member insurance brokers have nothing to hide. They freely declare they are compensated on a commission basis with the potential of contingent commission. Moreover, they want their clients to be well-informed about normal practices involving compensation.

Recent media reports from the U.S. identify allegations of fraud and anti-trust violation in the commercial insurance industry. What were the alleged violations?

The major accusation is with respect to bid rigging. Individuals have been accused of arranging fraudulent and inflated bids from other insurers in order to keep the commercial client with the customer’s current insurer. The allegations described are repugnant to reputable brokers because they would represent a betrayal of their client. These act are illegal in the U.S. and Canada and if proven should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. There is no evidence of this kind of wrong doing occurring in Canada.

Are these common practices and what does it mean in Canada?

The Canadian Competition Bureau recently reviewed insurance practices and found no evidence of anti-competitive behavior. The Canadian insurance industry is closely monitored and regulated by both federal and provincial governments. In addition, provincial governments have jurisdiction over market conduct and consumer issues such as rate setting, sales practices and the conduct of brokers. Property and Causality insurance brokers try to place their clients with those companies that provide the best product, services and price. The Insurance Brokers Association of Canada (IBAC) is the national trade organization which brings together and represents the 11 regional and provincial associations of Property and Causality (P and C) insurance brokers in Canada. These associations work with government, regulators, and insurance companies on behalf of consumers to ensure there is a choice of insurance products and services that are affordable, available, and understandable. P and C insurance includes home, care and business insurance, but not life insurance. Through its members associations, IBAC represents approximately 27,000 insurance brokers in virtually every community across the country. They are the principle distribution channel of property and causality insurance in Canada.

Disclaimer

Disclosure of the dealer’s membership in the CIPF:

Manulife Securities Investment Services Inc. is a Member MFDA IPC.

Mutual Fund disclaimer:

Commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with mutual fund investments. Please read the prospectus before investing. Mutual funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated.

Opinion disclaimer:

The opinions expressed are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Manulife Securities Investment Service Inc.