BY RATTAN MALL
THE Insurance Council of British Columbia, the province’s body for insurance agents, is suspending the licences of 21 Surrey life insurance agents who all come from the same branch of the company on the suspicion that they all colluded to cheat on their examination.
The names all appear to be South Asian. The names of those who have already been issued suspension notices – the names all appear to be South Asian – can be viewed on the Council’s website at www.insurancecouncilofbc.com.
On the left side of the homepage of the website you will see a list of options. Click on “Publications” and that will take you to “Council Disciplinary Decisions.” When you click on that, you will see all of the orders that are posted there for each individual.
Of course, these are all allegations for now and haven’t been proved yet.
The Council’s Executive Director, Gerald Matier, told The VOICE on Wednesday that after their investigation started, the Council identified a number of individuals, some with licences, some with pending applications, and some who haven’t applied yet. A total of 22 of these are licensed, but one of them has since resigned.
The Council has a convoluted disciplinary process that was established by legislation. It’s required to first make an intended decision. It has to write to the licensees, tell them what the issues are and tell them what action the Council is going to take. That decision is a confidential decision until it is accepted. If they don’t accept it, then they request a hearing and then, whatever the outcome of the hearing is becomes public.
So the Council has taken the first step and has issued the intended decisions. But because the hearing deals with their competency, the Council took the second step which was to issue an order under Section 238 that suspended their licences until such time as this matter has been resolved.
THE alleged collusion came to the attention of the Council as a result of a series of reports it ran including what’s called a collusion report. That first brought to their attention a number of people who had similar answers to the same exam such that it statistically seemed very odd and the main reason for that is that of the three primary exams the Council does, each one is of 30 multiple choice questions, Matier told The VOICE.
The sequence they were using was giving them a mark of around 66 to 70 per cent. So while there was nothing surprising about the right answers, it was the wrong answers that gave them away. There were approximately nine to 11 wrong answers and they were all the exact same wrong answers. “So that became even more of a telling issue,” noted Matier.
Also, the fact that they were all from the same branch office was the next issue and unfortunately for them, a few of them had the wrong exam and they used the same sequence. So in one case, somebody got zero, said Matier.
So the argument that they were studying together seemed fine until the Council came across the people who had the wrong exam.
Matier pointed out: “We have four versions of each exam, so that sequence only worked on one version.” So, on the grounds of probabilities, what is the likelihood that everybody could study together, everybody would do the same thing and get the exact same answers?
Even that would have worked but for the fact that all of them came from the same office and nobody else had the same sequence. And, of course, the people who got the wrong exam, got the wrong answers.