EIOPA issues second warning about the impact of Brexit on insurance contracts

EIOPA has published an opinion and FAQs emphasising the need for insurers and insurance intermediaries to explain to policyholders how Brexit will affect their insurance cover.

At first sight, EIOPA’s comments appear to reinforce concerns that political compromise cannot be expected on policies written (or performed) on a cross-border basis before the UK’s withdrawal from the EU (so-called “legacy contracts”). The particular issue for UK insurers is whether they will have the authorisation they need, post-Brexit, to continue to meet their obligations to EEA policyholders under these contracts. Closer examination of the words used by EIOPA may, however, mean that fewer policies are caught by this issue than has been assumed to date.

Our discussion of EIOPA’s latest opinion can be found here.

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BREXIT UPDATE – EEA (RE)INSURERS

EEA insurers and reinsurers doing business in the UK under the insurance passport must prepare for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. We consider, in our latest “At a Glance” guide, the impact of Brexit on the cross-border activities of EEA (re)insurers, including how firms might respond to the European Council’s recent agreement to a transition period.

The “At a Glance” guide can be found here.

PRA AND FCA CLARIFY IMPACT OF BREXIT TRANSITION FOR INSURANCE SECTOR

Recent announcements made by the PRA and FCA clarify their approach to Brexit following the European Council’s agreement to a transition period for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. In particular, insurers, insurance intermediaries and other financial services firms have been encouraged to assume that they will continue to benefit from passporting rights until December 2020. Whilst this is a welcome development, firms cannot be complacent:

  • As “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”, there can be no certainty about the transition period until all terms of the Withdrawal Agreement are approved, which will only come much later (if at all) in the Brexit negotiations.
  • Failing such agreement, the UK’s “temporary permission” regime will enable firms coming into the UK from other EEA jurisdictions to carry on business here while they obtain the PRA and FCA authorisations needed for those activities. UK firms with EEA operations seem unlikely, however, to benefit from a similar concession.
  • In practice, this means that UK firms with significant EEA interests are continuing to plan, for now at least, on the assumption that there will be no transition period. Otherwise, they risk disruption to their business if the UK leaves the EU without agreeing the envisaged transition period as part of the terms for its withdrawal.

We consider the latest announcements from the PRA and the FCA. We also note the PRA’s policy statement (PS4/18) and Supervisory Statement (SS2/18) on its approach to branch authorisation and supervision, which were issued at the same time. Continue reading

Brexit – PRA consults on approach to UK branches of incoming insurers

On 20 December 2017, the Treasury, PRA and FCA clarified their approach to EEA-headquartered financial services firms wishing to carry on business in the UK post-Brexit. More recent evidence to the House of Commons Treasury Committee (“TC”) sheds further light on the PRA’s thinking. It also highlights the difficulty for the PRA of giving guidance to firms while so much uncertainty surrounds the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

The PRA’s consultation (CP30/17) on its approach to third country insurers, a separate “Dear CEO letter” and comments made to the TC on 16 January merit further comment.

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Brexit – EIOPA publishes opinion on cross-border legacy business

An opinion published by EIOPA on 21 December 2017 raises concerns for UK insurers who have policyholders in EEA states other than the UK. This will include, for example, every life company with annuitants living in an EEA state*, perhaps because they moved from the UK on retirement.

Insurers have been aware of issues raised by Brexit for legacy contracts written (or performed) cross-border since the UK referendum on EU membership (see, for example, our client briefing issued in July 2016). However, it has been widely hoped, to now at least, that a sensible compromise would be reached by the UK government and EU authorities to ensure that firms do not need to embark on expensive and time-consuming processes to avoid detriment to policyholders once the UK finally leaves the EU. Such a compromise currently appears less likely. Continue reading

Delay to IDD start date/Guidance on UK approach to Brexit

Delay to IDD start date

The EU Commission published draft legislation today (in the form of a proposed Directive and a proposed Delegated Regulation) to delay the IDD start date to 1 October 2018.  It has agreed to requests for a delay made by the European Parliament and a number of Member States despite expressing the view that industry has already been given considerable time to adapt to the new rules.  Individual states are still required to transpose the IDD into domestic regimes by 23 February 2018. The European Parliament and the Council will need to agree the new date in an accelerated legislative procedure.

Brexit – UK approach to incoming financial services firms

The Treasury, PRA and FCA have today set out proposals for dealing with EEA-headquartered financial services firms wishing to conduct regulated activities in the UK post-Brexit.  The concern, of course, is how those firms, including (re)insurers and (re)insurance intermediaries, can operate in the UK once they have lost passporting rights (assuming that they do so).

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LEGISLATING FOR THE UK’S WITHDRAWAL FROM THE EU

The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill was published by the Government in July 2017 and is the key piece of UK domestic legislation that will implement Brexit.

Repeal of the European Communities Act:

The principal purpose of the Bill is to repeal the European Communities Act 1972, which gives effect and priority to EU law in the UK, thereby formally reasserting the sovereignty and independence of domestic law. The Government had published a White Paper in March 2017, Legislating for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union (the “White Paper“) proposing a “Great Repeal Bill”. The now less dramatically titled European Union (Withdrawal) Bill (the “Withdrawal Bill“) is the vehicle for that legislation. The Government has also published detailed draft explanatory notes for the Bill (“Explanatory Notes“).

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