Travel agencies and agents are required to carry or to work for a company that carries travel insurance. With such a requirement on the books, it is only logical that there should be travel insurance agents.
In order to be a travel insurance agent in British Columbia, you must prove that you have the expertise to properly serve your clients. A notice published January 5, 2005, explains that only the travel agent or wholesale owner needs to have a “restricted travel insurance license with the Insurance Council of British Columbia.”
If you are a commissioned sales person for a licensed insurance agency, you are considered to be under their licensing umbrella. However, you will still need to take the BC Travel Insurance Course and the Exam – completing both successfully. If you have taken, and passed the exam, you might be exempt. However, individuals who have been out of the business for more than two years, will need to take the exam
The travel agency that employs the insurance counselor is responsible for making sure that the person keeps up with the continuing education requirement for company licensing. The requirement is two credit hours each year, to make sure that all participants are up-to-date on insurance changes.
The course and the exam are available through ACTA, Association of Canadian Travel Agencies. The exam is only available online. Participants must schedule the exam 10 days in advance of actually taking it.
Changes occur in Travel Insurance requirements every year. In January 2010, several changes were considered. To learn what regulations are currently in effect, prospective and practicing agents can go to the Insurance Council of British Columbia website. The website pages have been thoughtfully sorted according to the type of insurance under consideration. Under Travel Insurance two main types are listed: Single proprietorship and corporate licensing.
A single proprietor is an agent who does not have a partner, nor is he or she a participant in a corporation. Such an agent is required to take the insurance course and pass the exam within one year prior to requesting a license. He or she must register with the B.C. corporate registry, and register with Consumer Protection in BC.
Partnerships or corporations must also carry insurance. Their Restricted travel agent license can only be issued to a person who has already qualified as an agent. The partnership or corporation must be registered with BC Consumer Protection, and with corporate registry. They must also register the name of their company if it is different from the name of the travel agent.
As might be expected, there are fees for registering. The fee schedule is available for download. The overall application for a first time registrant is $250.00. The annual renewal fee is $120. Other fees may apply.
Even agents who qualified for the waiver in 2005 must comply with the yearly education update. The two credits of education must be obtained from a recognized provider. They cannot be comprised of onthe-job training, nor can they be obtained from reading professional journals. This is to make sure that the education received actually fulfills the intended purpose: keeping agents up-to-date with current practices in their field, which should enable them to best serve their clients. Furthermore, in today’s world with unrest in so many countries, it might help keep them up-to-date on security and other safe travel practices. A knowledgeable agent who communicates well with clients might be able not only to save them money, but perhaps could even save a life.
All of this might seem very complicated. But the goal is to create a system that protects both the customers and the agents from fraudulent business practices. The Insurance Council of British Columbia continue to work toward simplifying the rules that apply to travel agencies and to travel insurance.
British Columbia offers a lush world for tourists from all over the world to explore. The tourism industry brings in millions of dollars each year to it and to similar regions in Canada. Supporting travel agencies and travel insurance with good, understandable rules is one way to help keep those dollars flowing. Happy, safe tourists – and even happy, safe visiting workers – keeps those dollars flowing into the BC economy.