The Regulation respecting alternative distribution methods came into force on June 13, 2019. As of this date, firms may offer financial products or services without the intermediary of a natural person. Consequently, clients can enter into a contract via the Internet, without having to go through a representative, in the following sectors:

  • insurance
  • claims settlement
  • financial planning

References to a “firm” include an independent partnership.

If the process begins on the Internet but a representative must always complete the transaction, the offer is not considered as having been entered into on a digital transaction space covered under the Regulation.

For example, a business operating a comparison shopping website that directs clients to a firm’s site to complete the transaction does not need to comply with the Regulation. It must, however, be registered as a firm and comply with the other regulations applicable to firms if it carries out activities specific to a firm or a representative.

However, as soon as a firm uses its digital space - whether a website or a mobile app - for transactions, it must meet the obligations applicable to products and services offered via the Internet set out below. 

Who can offer a product or service via the Internet?

Any legal person, including an insurer, that offers a financial product or service via the Internet must be registered with the AMF as a firm.

Any legal person registered with the AMF as a firm may offer a financial product or service via the Internet, provided it is registered to offer that product or service and it meets the legal and regulatory obligations related to the offer.

For example, a legal person that wants to offer a group insurance contract via the Internet must be registered as a group insurance firm and comply with the Regulation.  

Warning

Important: The Regulation does not cover the enrollment in a group insurance, annuity or pension plan contract.

Independent representatives cannot offer products or services via the Internet.

End of the warning

Obligations of firms

The provisions relating to distribution without the intermediary of a natural person are set out in the Act respecting the distribution of financial products and services This link will open in a new window and in the Regulation.

Firms are authorized to allow clients to enter into a contract via the Internet without having to go through a representative. However, they must take the necessary steps to ensure that representatives interact in sufficient time with clients who ask to deal with a representative. These representatives must be registered with the AMF in the sector required to offer the product or service and must be attached to the firm.

The information about how clients can interact with one of the firm’s representatives must be visible at all times. Clients can interact with a representative by phone or chat. Chatbots and robo-advisers do not meet this requirement.

Insight

Transition period

Firms have a one-year transition period, i.e., until June 13, 2020, to make the required policies and endorsements accessible on their digital space.

End of the insight

Firms must advise clients in the same manner as representatives would. A firm must inquire into the client’s situation through its digital transaction space in order to identify the client’s needs and, if applicable, ensure that the product being offered meets their needs.

Firms must provide certain information and documents on their digital transaction spaces. This includes, for example, certain regulatory requirements applicable to representatives, such as providing clients with the information collected to assess their financial needs and disclose the firm’s business relationships.

Other information and documents must be easily accessible through the digital transaction space, including the firm’s registration number, a summary of the complaint examination policy and specimens of the policy and available endorsements.

Unlike the information that must be available on the digital transaction space, the information that must be easily accessible may be presented outside the digital space, for example, in a PDF document or in a section or on a page in the information (non-transactional) portion of the firm’s website. The website may contain an information portion and a transaction portion. Only the transaction portion must comply with the Regulation.

The information presented on the digital transaction space must be clear, readable and not misleading.

It must be presented so as to highlight the key elements required for the client to make an informed decision regarding the financial product or service offered and not cause confusion or misunderstanding. 

Right of cancellation

Clients have a 10-day period to cancel an insurance contract entered into via the Internet at no cost. The firm must give the client a notice of cancellation of an insurance contract (hyperlien vers annexe 1 du règlement a ajouté) when the client purchases a product on-line. However, if the client finalizes the transaction with a representative by phone, the right of cancellation does not apply.

Design operation and monitoring of the digital transaction space

Firms using a digital transaction space to interact with clients and allow them to enter into a contract must comply with the Regulation concerning the design, operation and monitoring of the space.

Firms must ensure the proper operation and reliability of their digital space at all times and the accuracy of the information presented on it. They must also ensure that the information provided by clients is collected, used, delivered and kept in a manner that ensures its confidentiality and security.

Firms must document their processes; they have a one-year transition period to adopt the required procedures.

Firms must ensure that their digital space can detect certain situations where a transaction must be suspended or terminated.  

For example:

  • The information entered by the client contains a discrepancy, which may lead to an inappropriate result.
  • The client’s profile does not meet the product eligibility criteria.
  • The client asks to communicate with a representative when no representative is available and carrying on with the transaction involves certain risks.
  • The client wants to purchase an insurance product to replace a product he already has and the firm is unable to generate a notice of policy replacement and send it to the client through its digital space.

Firms must also:

  • require an action from the client each time confirmation or consent is needed. This may be the case when clients need to confirm the accuracy of prefilled fields or consent to have information about them collected from third parties.
  • enter information in the client file so that they can trace the entire process followed by the client; if the client has dealt with a representative, this information should be included. 

Steps for offering financial products or services via the Internet

Firms that offer products or services disclosed to the AMF via E-Services. the Internet.

Digital space:

  • Start date of the offer via the digital space
  • Name of the digital transaction space, if different than the name of the firm
  • Hyperlink or means of accessing the idigital space

Insurance products:

  • Date as of which the product will be offered on the digital space
  • Name of each insurance product
  • Class of the insurance product. You can indicate only one class per product. If a product belongs to several classes, choose the main one.
  • Type of insurance product
  • Name and client number of the insurer whose products are offered on the digital space 

Claims settlement:

  • Date as of which the service will be offered on the digital space
  • Name of the service
  • Class of product related to the service
  • Type of product related to the service
  • Name and client number of the insurer

Financial planning:

  • Date as of which the service will be offered on the digital space
  • Insurer's name and client number, if applicable

For more information, such as about selecting the product class or type, please refer to the companion guide (pdf - 748 KB)This link will open in a new windowUpdated on 11 June 2019companion guide, digital space, digital spaces, digital transaction space, digital transaction spaces, products and services offered via the Internet, product or service offered via the Internet, website, mobile app, which has been prepared to help you disclose the required information to the AMF about the products and services you are offering online.

Annual disclosure:

The functionalities you need for your maintenance of registration (January or May 2020) are still under development, but will be available in time for your next annual disclosure. During your next annual disclosure, you must indicate the number of financial plans prepared, claims settled and insurance policies issued, as well as the amount of premiums written, only through your digital space. 

Firms that offer insurance via the Internet will also have to disclose the number of contract cancellations .

If your business is registered with the AMF as a firm

  1. Log in to E-Services and select “Insurance and Financial Planning” from the main menu.
  2. Select “Offer of a product or service via the Internet” and follow the steps on screen. 

If your business is not registered as a firm

  1. Complete the paper version of the Registration of Firm or Independent Partnership form (pdf - 640 KB)This link will open in a new windowUpdated on 6 December 2017.
  2. Subscribe to E-Services. You will first need to create a clicSÉQUR account.
  3. Follow the above steps for businesses registered as a firm 
Information

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