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Mayoral candidate clashed with Insurance Council

Jagmohan Bhandrai cites lack of proper training as cause of problems
Jag Bhandari

A Surrey man who is running for mayor of Whistler and councillor in his hometown of Surrey was at one time barred from working as an insurance agent for being untrustworthy.

But for Jagmohan Bhandari, the censure was a result of poor training for insurance agents at the time and not because he was trying to mislead people.

“I was the victim,” he said. “I was brand new into this country and (this company) just gave us scripts and sent us out.

“I’m highly educated, but at that time I was not aware of all the information.”

An Insurance Council of B.C. decision from July of 2002 states that Jagmohan Bhandari: “…failed to act in a trustworthy and competent manner, in good faith, and in accordance with the usual practice of the business of insurance.”

The comments stem from an investigation of Bhandari by the Insurance Council into activities he performed after switching employment from American Income Life Insurance to London Life Insurance.

“He misstated the applicant’s existing insurance on the insurance application, he improperly advised three clients to cancel insurance prior to replacing, and that is a very serious one because… you never have someone cancel an existing policy until a new one is in effect,” explained Gerald Matier, executive director of the Insurance Council.

“If it turns out that there is a medial issue that comes up they could find themselves… uninsured.

“He also had a client replace an existing contract that was not in a client’s best interests.”

Despite these findings Bhandari was offered a second chance to be an insurance agent if he upgraded his education in the field and found a mentor.

Matier admits that the education requirements at that time were not as stringent as they are now.

“A lot of it went down to his knowledge and his training,” he said.

“(The Council) obviously didn’t feel that he was unsuitable to be licenced. They didn’t feel he was such a public risk that, no, you can’t be in the business, but they certainly felt that if he was going to remain in the business they wanted him to be supervised from that point on.”

Bhandari did get his licence back in 2005. According to the Insurance Council it lapsed in 2007.

The issues with the Insurance Council reached into Bhandari’s applications to be a mortgage broker and a real estate agent through the Financial Institutions Commission of B.C.

FICOM is an agency of the provincial government , which administers 10 statutes providing regulatory rules for the protection of the public in B.C. It is responsible for real estate, mortgage brokers, insurance, and several other areas of service.

His registration as a mortgage broker was delayed due to the decision of the Insurance Council said Ken Fraser, executive director of investigations for FICOM.

“…We refused to allow him to continue registration primarily because it appears that he was a person, at the time, of unsuitable character,” he said.

“We based our information primarily on the information received from the Insurance Council.”

Bhandari has, however, been registered as a mortgage broker since December 2003. His company is Centum Aan The Spot Mortgage, as listed on the disclosure forms he filed for candidacy for mayor and councillor.

The Real Estate Council of B.C. also confirms that he has been licenced at the representative level since August of 2002.

Bhandari, in a previous interview, said he is the owner of three Century 21 offices in B.C., the largest of which has more than 200 realtors on the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board. He said he is also part owner of at least five other companies, including a real-estate school, a media production company and the mortgage company.

Bhandari said he has chosen to learn from the clash with the Insurance Council and works now to make sure all those he trains understand their responsibilities fully.

“I now look for fraud,” he said.

“It changed my life in a very positive way.”