Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick
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Consumer Advocate for Insurance Act

Legislature :
55
Session :
1
Bill No. :
79
Member :
Hon. Mr. Green, Q.C.
First Reading :
2004-6-29
Second Reading :
2004-6-29
Committee of the Whole :
2004-6-30
Amended :
Third Reading :
2004-6-30
Royal Assent :
2004-6-30
Download PDF :
Bill 79

Text of Bill :
Chapter Outline



Definitions......................................................................................................................................... 1

agent — agent

broker — courtier

Consumer Advocate — défenseur

insurer — assureur

Superintendent — surintendent

Establishment of the Office of the Consumer Advocate for Insurance........................................ 2

Salary of Consumer Advocate.......................................................................................................... 3

Acting Consumer Advocate.............................................................................................................. 4

Oath of Consumer Advocate............................................................................................................. 5

Employees of the Office of the Consumer Advocate.................................................................... 6

Responsibilities of the Consumer Advocate................................................................................... 7

Consumer Advocate has powers, privileges and immunities of a commissioner........................ 8

Investigations..................................................................................................................................... 9

Annual report to Legislative Assembly......................................................................................... 10

Assessment for expenses................................................................................................................ 11

Commencement............................................................................................................................... 12





Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick, enacts as follows:



Definitions

1                           The following definitions apply in this Act.



"agent" means an agent as defined in section 1 of the Insurance Act. (agent)



"broker" means a broker as defined in section 1 of the Insurance Act. (courtier)



"Consumer Advocate" means the Consumer Advocate appointed under subsection 2(2). (défenseur)



"insurer" means an insurer as defined in section 1 of the Insurance Act. (assureur)



"Superintendent" means the Superintendent as defined in section 1 of the Insurance Act. (surintendant)



Establishment of the Office of the Consumer Advocate for Insurance

2(1)                   There shall be an Office of the Consumer Advocate for Insurance for New Brunswick, as well as a Consumer Advocate for Insurance for New Brunswick.



2(2)                   The Consumer Advocate shall be appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly.



2(3)                   The Consumer Advocate may not be a member of the Legislative Assembly and shall not hold any office of trust or profit, other than his or her office as Consumer Advocate, or engage in any other occupation for reward outside the responsibilities of his or her office without prior approval in each particular case by the Legislative Assembly or the Lieutenant-Governor in Council when the Legislature is not in session.



2(4)                   The Consumer Advocate is an officer of the Legislative Assembly.



2(5)                   The Consumer Advocate shall hold office during good behaviour for a term, to be determined by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, of not more than 10 years.



2(6)                   The Consumer Advocate is eligible for reappointment under subsection (5).



2(7)                   In the event of the absence or incapacity of the Consumer Advocate, or if the office of the Consumer Advocate is vacant, the vacancy shall be filled in accordance with subsections (8) and (9).



2(8)                   The Lieutenant-Governor in Council may appoint a Consumer Advocate to hold office until his or her appointment is confirmed by the Legislative Assembly in accordance with subsection (9) where



(a)               the office of the Consumer Advocate becomes vacant when the Legislature is in session but no recommendation is made by the Legislative Assembly before the close of that session, or



(b)               the office of the Consumer Advocate becomes vacant when the Legislature is not in session.



2(9)                   Where an appointment under subsection (8) is not confirmed within 30 days following the commencement of the next ensuing session of the Legislature, the appointment terminates and the office of the Consumer Advocate is vacant.



Salary of Consumer Advocate

3                           The Consumer Advocate shall be paid an annual salary as determined by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.



Acting Consumer Advocate

4(1)                   Where the office of Consumer Advocate is vacant, the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may appoint an acting Consumer Advocate to hold office until a person is appointed as Consumer Advocate.



4(2)                   An acting Consumer Advocate, while in office, has the powers and responsibilities and shall perform the functions of the Consumer Advocate and shall be paid such salary or other remuneration and expenses as the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may fix.



Oath of Consumer Advocate

5(1)                   Before entering upon the exercise of the responsibilities of his or her office the Consumer Advocate shall take an oath that he or she will faithfully and impartially perform the responsibilities of his or her office and will not disclose any information received by him or her under this Act except for the purpose of giving effect to this Act.



5(2)                   The Speaker or the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly shall administer the oath referred to in subsection (1).



Employees of the Office of the Consumer Advocate

6(1)                   Notwithstanding the Civil Service Act, the Consumer Advocate may appoint such persons to positions in the Office of the Consumer Advocate as he or she considers necessary to enable the fulfillment of the Consumer Advocate's responsibilities under this Act.



6(2)                   The Public Service Superannuation Act applies to the Consumer Advocate and the employees of the Office of the Consumer Advocate.



6(3)                   The Consumer Advocate may contract for such professional services, for limited periods of time or in respect of particular matters, as he or she considers necessary to enable the fulfillment of the Consumer Advocate's responsibilities under this Act.



Responsibilities of the Consumer Advocate

7(1)                   The Consumer Advocate shall



(a)               examine the underwriting practices and guidelines of insurers, brokers and agents, and report the use of any prohibited underwriting practices to the Superintendent;



(b)               conduct investigations in relation to insurers, brokers and agents concerning



(i)         the premiums charged for contracts of insurance, and



(ii)       the availability of contracts of insurance;



(c)               respond to requests for information with respect to insurance;



(d)               develop and conduct educational programmes with respect to insurance for the purpose of educating consumers; and



(e)               carry out tasks or investigations in relation to insurance matters or the insurance industry as directed by the Legislative Assembly.



7(2)                   The Consumer Advocate may appear before the New Brunswick Insurance Board established under the Insurance Act to represent the interests of consumers and may present evidence, call witnesses, cross-examine witnesses and make representations to the New Brunswick Insurance Board.



7(3)                   The Consumer Advocate may appear before the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities to represent the interests of consumers and may present evidence, call witnesses, cross-examine witnesses and make representations to the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities at hearings the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities is authorized to hold under the Insurance Act.



Consumer Advocate has powers, privileges and immunities of a commissioner

8                           The Consumer Advocate has all the powers, privileges and immunities of a commissioner under the Inquiries Act and regulations.



Investigations

9(1)                   The Consumer Advocate shall conduct and carry out investigations under paragraph 7(1)(b) either pursuant to a complaint made to the Consumer Advocate or on his or her own initiative and shall, as provided in this Act, report and make recommendations with respect to such investigations.



9(2)                   The Consumer Advocate may refuse to investigate or cease to investigate any complaint if, in the opinion of the Consumer Advocate,



(a)               the subject-matter of the complaint is trivial,



(b)               the complaint is frivolous or vexatious or is not made in good faith, or



(c)               the subject-matter of the complaint does not come within the authority of the Consumer Advocate under this Act.



9(3)                   If the Consumer Advocate refuses to investigate or ceases to investigate any complaint, the Consumer Advocate shall advise the complainant and provide reasons for the decision to do so.



9(4)                   Before commencing an investigation into a complaint under this Act, the Consumer Advocate shall advise the insurer, broker or agent concerned of his or her intention to carry out the investigation.



9(5)                   Before commencing an investigation upon his or her own initiative under this Act, the Consumer Advocate shall notify the Superintendent and the insurer, broker or agent concerned of his or her intention to carry out the investigation.



9(6)                   Subject to this Act, the Consumer Advocate may determine the procedure to be followed in carrying out an investigation under this Act.



9(7)                   After carrying out an investigation pursuant to a complaint under this Act, the Consumer Advocate shall communicate the results of the investigation and any recommendations, including any opinion and the reasons for the recommendations, only to the insurer, broker or agent concerned, the complainant and, at the discretion of the Consumer Advocate, the Superintendent.



9(8)                   After carrying out an investigation on his or her own initiative, the Consumer Advocate shall communicate the results of the investigation and any recommendations, including any opinion and the reasons for the recommendations, only to the Superintendent and the insurer, broker or agent concerned.



9(9)                   Notwithstanding subsection (7), where during the course of an investigation the Consumer Advocate reasonably believes the insurer, broker or agent has violated any prohibition or failed to comply with the requirements of the Insurance Act, the Consumer Advocate shall



(a)               suspend the investigation and refer the matter to the Superintendent, or



(b)               complete the investigation and communicate to the Superintendent the results of the investigation and any recommendations, including any opinion and the reasons for the recommendations.



9(10)               Notwithstanding subsection (7), where during the course of an investigation the Consumer Advocate reasonably believes the insurer, broker or agent has committed an offence under any Act of Parliament or any other Act of the Legislature other than the Insurance Act, the Consumer Advocate shall suspend the investigation and refer the matter to the appropriate authorities.



Annual report to Legislative Assembly

10(1)               The Consumer Advocate shall report annually to the Legislative Assembly concerning



(a)               the activities of the Office of the Consumer Advocate in the preceding year; and



(b)               the total amount assessed against licensed insurers in the preceding year under section 11 and the amount paid by each insurer.



10(2)               Each annual report by the Consumer Advocate to the Legislative Assembly shall be submitted to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly as soon as practicable after the close of each year and the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly shall table each such report before the Legislative Assembly forthwith after receipt thereof by him or her or, if the Legislative Assembly is not then in session, within 10 days following the commencement of the next ensuing session of the Legislative Assembly.



Assessment for expenses

11(1)               The Consumer Advocate shall annually, as soon as practicable after the close of each fiscal year, by reference to the Public Accounts and by such further inquiries or investigations as he or she may deem necessary, ascertain and certify the total amount of the expenditure incurred by the Province for or in connection with the administration of this Act during the last preceding fiscal year and the amount of the expenditure so ascertained and certified by the Consumer Advocate is final and conclusive for all purposes of this section.



11(2)               The total amount of expenditure incurred by the Province for or in connection with the administration of this Act ascertained and certified under the provisions of subsection (1) includes any costs incurred by the appearance of the Consumer Advocate under subsection 7(2) before the New Brunswick Insurance Board or any costs incurred by the appearance of the Consumer Advocate under subsection 7(3) before the Board of Commissions of Public Utilities.



11(3)               The total amount of the expenditure incurred by the Province for or in connection with the administration of this Act ascertained and certified under the provisions of subsection (1) shall be assessed against licensed insurers as follows:



(a)               where any portion, as the Consumer Advocate determines, of the total amount of the expenditure incurred by the Province for or in connection with the administration of this Act was expended directly or indirectly with respect to a class of insurance, each licensed insurer providing insurance of that class shall be assessed such amount of that portion as his or her net receipts with respect to that class of insurance are of the total net receipts with respect to that class of insurance of all licensed insurers providing insurance of that class; and



(b)               where a balance remains of the total amount of the expenditure incurred by the Province for or in connection with the administration of this Act after the assessment referred to in paragraph (a) has been made and the total amount of the assessment has been deducted, each licensed insurer shall be further assessed such amount of that balance as his or her net receipts with respect to all classes of insurance are of the total net receipts with respect to all classes of insurance of all licensed insurers.



11(4)               The assessments made in subsection (3), when certified by the Consumer Advocate, are binding upon the said insurers and each of them and are final and conclusive.



11(5)               The Superintendent shall advise the Consumer Advocate, at the earliest time possible, of the amount of the net receipts of each licensed insurer calculated under subsection 94(4) of the Insurance Act, in order for the Consumer Advocate to determine the assessments made in subsection (3).



11(6)               When an insurer that is assessed defaults in the payment of an assessment or any part thereof, the Consumer Advocate may issue a certificate stating that the assessment was made, the amount remaining unpaid on account thereof and the insurer by whom it was payable and such certificate, or a duly certified copy of it, may be filed in The Court of Queen's Bench of New Brunswick and when so filed and sealed with the seal of such court shall become an order of that court upon which judgment may be entered against such insurer for the amount mentioned in the certificate, together with the fees of the clerk or agent allowable in the case of a default judgment and such judgment may be enforced by execution or otherwise as any other judgment of the court.



Commencement

12                        This Act or any provision of it comes into force on a day or days to be fixed by proclamation.

 

Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick
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