Complaint Handling and Dispute Resolution Policy
This policy was drafted in accordance with Quebec’s Act respecting the distribution of financial products and services in connection with the handling of complaints and the resolution of disputes.
Complaint handling mechanism
Univesta Insurance and Financial Services Inc. (“Univesta”) seeks to offer excellent service to its clientele, including resolving problems swiftly and utilizing high-quality tools. We hope that our clients will derive immediate satisfaction from our complaints handling service and dispute resolution mechanism.
On December 11, 2002, we put a policy in place for receiving and handling clients' complaints; it is now well-established. The law states that our clients must contact us first when seeking solutions to problems.
We undertake to act professionally and with complete transparency in the event that one of our clients has a complaint; this is of the utmost importance to us. We also undertake to act without delay when responding to complaints and, upon their request, to swiftly submit clients’ files to the AMF.
1. Goal of the policy
The goal of this policy is to establish an equitable and cost-free procedure for handling all complaints received by Univesta and its affiliates in the course of their dealings with clients.
In particular, this policy seeks to regulate how complaints are received, how acknowledgments of receipt and other notices are sent to complainants, how complaint files are opened or submitted to Quebec’s Autorité des marchés financiers (“AMF”), as applicable, and how complaints are compiled for the purposes of drafting and submitting semi-annual reports to the AMF.
Under this obligation, Univesta’s employees are required to receive complaints from clients and to understand the problems they raise by using an impartial approach and providing an appropriate response based on each particular situation.
It should be noted that the complaints we are required to handle do not exclusively deal with potential violations of the law. In other words, all complaints that have a bearing on our operations, whether professional or administrative, are deserving of our attention. First and foremost, complaints are deserving of our attention due to our concern for quality.
2. Person in charge of implementing the policy
The responsibility for implementing this policy within our firm lies with Marie-Josée Boucher, Vice-President, Compliance and Legal Affairs (the “Person in Charge”). The Person in Charge acts as the respondent in dealings with the AMF and ensures that the firm's managers, brokers and employees are trained and informed with a view to ensuring proper implementation of this policy.
The Person in Charge helps complainants to detail each aspect of their complaints by asking them to submit their complaint in writing if necessary, depending on the nature of their complaint.
In addition to the abovementioned responsibilities, the Person in Charge is required to:
- Acknowledge receipt of complaints by contacting the complainants;
- Send all required notices to the complainants;
- Process complaints;
- Submit the complaint files to the AMF if the complainants so desire;
- Maintain a register of complaints;
- Submit semi-annual reports to the AMF.
3. Definition of a complaint and eligibility
For the purposes of this policy, a complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction containing at least one of the following:
- Criticism of the firm, one of its brokers or one of its employees with respect to a product or service that we provided or distributed;
- The identification of potential or actual damages that a client allegedly suffered or may suffer in the future;
- A request for corrective action.
For a complaint to be eligible, i t does not necessarily have to be submitted in writing by a client, nor is it mandatory to ask a client to submit a complaint in writing. If the complaint is verbal, the firm is required to document it in writing. Complaints may also be submitted in the form of a standard letter, a formal demand, a lawsuit or an investigation relating to a disciplinary complaint.
THIS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A COMPLAINT: The initial expression of a client's dissatisfaction or the informal steps taken by a client to rectify a specific problem that must be escalated to one of the firm's supervisors or team leaders and that is resolved by them.
THIS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A COMPLAINT EITHER: If the client's dissatisfaction is resolved at the initial level of contact and in the normal course of the company's business (e.g. a client is dissatisfied with an insurance premium increase, with a policy cancellation charge or with a claims adjuster, etc.). However, in the event that the client is still dissatisfied and his or her situation must be dealt with by the person who is in charge of handling complaints and who is designated as such in the firm's policy, the situation does constitute a complaint.
4. Submitting complaints
Clients who wish to submit a complaint must do so in writing to the following address:
Univesta Insurance and Financial Services Inc.
Ms. Marie-Josée Boucher
Vice-President, Compliance and Legal Affairs 3925 Rachel East
Montréal, QC H1X 3G8
Any employee of the firm who receives a complaint must immediately forward it to the Person in Charge of implementing this policy.
The Person in Charge must acknowledge receipt of the complaint within 10 business days following receipt thereof. The acknowledgement of receipt must include the following information:
- A copy of the complaint policy, if requested by the client;
- A description of the complaint received, specifying the nature of the problem involving the firm and/or the firm's employee and the request for corrective action;
- The name and contact information of the Person in Charge of handling the complaint;
- In the case of an incomplete complaint, a notice stating the need to submit additional information, to which the complainant must respond within 10 business days, failing which the complaint will be deemed to have been abandoned;
- Information confirming that complainants are entitled to request that their file be forwarded to the AMF, if they are not satisfied with Univesta’s review thereof, no later than one year following the firm's response to their complaint. The notice must also state that the AMF may offer mediation services if it deems appropriate and if the parties provide their consent;
- Information for the complainant stating that mediation is a process of settling conflicts amicably in which a third person (the mediator) intervenes with the parties to help them reach a satisfactory agreement;
- A reminder to complainants stating that filing a complaint with the AMF does not interrupt the limitation period for civil lawsuits.
5. Creating the complaint file
For each complaint received, a separate file must be created, including the following information:
- The complaint itself, including one of the three essential components (criticism of the firm, the broker or the employee; actual or potential damages; and a request for corrective action);
- A copy of the acknowledgment of receipt sent to the complainant or the request for clarification;
- The outcome of the complaint handling process (analysis and supporting documents);
- A copy of the firm’s final reasoned response, which was submitted in writing to the complainant;
- A copy of all documents sent by the complainant to the Person in Charge.
6. Complaint handling
- After a complaint is received, the Person in Charge must carry out an investigation with the support of the firm's various internal stakeholders;
- The complaint must be processed within a period of 30 days following receipt of all necessary information;
- Once the investigation has been completed, the Person in Charge must send the firm's final reasoned response to the complainant.
7. Submitting files to the AMF
If complainants are not satisfied with the firm’s review of their complaints or with the outcome of said review, they may ask the firm to submit their complaint files to the AMF.
This right may only be exercised by complainants following the expiry of the period for obtaining a final response (i.e. one business month) but not exceeding the one-year period following the date on which said response was received.
Files submitted to the AMF must include all documents relating to the complaint files.
8. Complaint register and semi-annual report
- For the purposes of implementing this policy, the firm must establish a complaint register on its website in conjunction with the complaint reporting system (CRS);
- The Person in Charge is responsible for updating the complaint register;
- All complaints formulated and meeting the definition in Section 3 must be included in the register;
- In accordance with the law, all complaints received by the firm must be reported twice a year to the AMF. The Person in Charge must submit a report to the AMF specifying the number and nature of the complaints received, based on the categories set out in the register. Reports must be submitted twice a year, i.e. no later than July 30 for data collected between January 1 and June 30, and no later than
January 31 for data collected between July 1 and December 31.
N.B.: The AMF has issued guidelines for independent representatives and firms with only one representative. These guidelines state that the AMF no longer requires firms with only one representative or independent representatives subject to the Act respecting the distribution of financial products and services to file a report if no complaints were submitted. However, if they receive a complaint, said firms or independent representatives are still required to report it in accordance with standard procedures.
9. Notice to the firm’s managers, brokers and staff members
The Person in Charge hereby informs the firm's managers, brokers and employees that they are required to familiarize themselves with the statement concerning the complaint handling and dispute resolution policy and may consult it as needed.
10. Effective date
This policy took effect on February 8, 2007, and was amended on June 10, 2013, January 13, 2015, October 28, 2016, and May 4, 2020.