April 18, 2021

Last Updated on May 3, 2024 by Pichada Wangsangthong

insurance broker signing paperwork
Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

For a lot of people starting out in the insurance industry, the end goal is to start your own insurance brokerage. To do this, you will probably want to have a client base and gain some knowledge and experience in this industry first. But from a regulatory perspective, there are 3 basic steps:

Step 1) Get a Level 3 (Management) License

Every brokerage needs a nominee or “designated representative” to supervise all of the brokers. The supervising broker needs to hold a Level 3 license in each province the brokerage is licensed in.

To get your Level 3 license, you need to pass all of the exams required to earn your Level 1, 2, and then 3 license in your province. In Alberta, this means passing the AIC Level 1, 2 & 3 exams. For Ontario, that’s the RIBO 1, 2 (Technical) & 3 (Management) exams. In BC and other Canadian provinces, that’s all 4 CAIB exams. After passing these exams, some provinces will require some additional courses specifically for supervising brokers.

As an alternative, you can also hire a Level 3 licensee on contract to sit as your supervising broker.

[April 30, 2024 UPDATE:

Starting April 1, 2023, level 1 licensees are classified as brokers holding Entry Level Broker or Level 1 competency (previously Acting Under Supervision and Acting Under Supervision (No A&S or Travel or Including Travel, No A&S)).

Level 2 licensees are classified as brokers holding Technical/Commercial competency (previously Unrestricted Technical classes and Unrestricted Technical (No A&S or Travel or Including Travel, NO A&S)).

Level 3 licensees are classified as brokers holding Management competency (previously Unrestricted classes and Unrestricted (No A&S or Travel or Including Travel, NO A&S)).]

Step 2) Get an Insurer Contract

To start an insurance brokerage in Canada, you need to find at least 1 domestic insurance company that is willing to give you an “authority to represent” (ATR). This contract allows you to represent that insurance company and sell their insurance products. After all, how are you going to start a brokerage and have nothing to sell?

To earn a contract from an insurance company, you will need to present your business plan and make a case for why they should work with you. Do you have access to a market they want to be in? Do you have some special channels? How is working with you going to be worthwhile for the insurer? They will want to also know about the background of your team and ask for some minimum premium commitments in the first 12-18 months.

Unfortunately, Managing General Agents (MGA) contracts don’t count towards this regulatory requirement.

Step 3) File the Paperwork to Start an Insurance Brokerage

After you have all of this in place, you just need to go through the formality of filing the registration paperwork with each province you want to operate in. For more help with that, review our Regulatory Repository. This helpful database contains up to date information for what’s required in each province to register and stay compliant. The regulatory repository is a great tool for any current or prospective brokerage owner.

These 3 steps outline in general terms what’s needed to start an insurance brokerage here in Canada. But make sure you review the variations each provincial regulator imposes using the Regulatory Repository. If you still have any questions, most provincial regulators are happy to help. Just send them an email or give them a call.

[UPDATE]: April 15, 2024

Changes for Level 3 Licenses in BC:

Previously, holding a management or ownership role was a prerequisite for a Level 3 license. Now, qualification is based solely on your education and experience. This means even if you’re not in a leadership position, you can still qualify for a Level 3 license as long as you meet the requirements.

Also, say goodbye to the confusion of having multiple license levels based on the companies you represent (ATR). Moving forward, your license level will be tied directly to your qualifications, not your employer. So, if you qualify for a Level 3 license, you can simply apply for it regardless of your current role.

If you already have both Level 2 and Level 3 ATRs, don’t worry! You can continue practicing under your current licenses without any change. You’ll receive an email about how your online ATR information will be updated to reflect this new system.

Jacques Wong is the CEO and Director of Education at PNC Learning. An award-winning licensed insurance broker with over 15 years of experience in both education and the insurance industry, Jacques is recognized for his expertise and effective communication strategies. He achieved the highest provincial scores on his CAIB* 3 and CAIB* 4 exams and contributes to leading insurance publications. Jacques is dedicated to making insurance knowledge accessible for everyone through his unique approach and online content.

Jacques Wong

 Jacques wong


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