Many UK life insurers write pensions, retirement income, life insurance and long-term protection business for customers who are based in the European Economic Area (EEA) (including UK expats). Given the long-term nature of these products, the ability of firms to continue to service their EEA customers if the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement (a no-deal scenario) is one of our key areas of focus.
This sector is closely connected with the general insurance and investment sectors. There is an overlap with the key risks affecting these sectors. Read the information for:
- general insurers and intermediaries in the UK
- participants in the wholesale markets operating in the UK (including wholesale banks, wholesale markets and asset managers)
You should already have assessed the impact of Brexit on your business and your customers.
Servicing your EEA customers in a no-deal scenario
If you have customers in the EEA, you need to decide on your approach to servicing your existing contracts with them. You should take the steps available to you to continue to service customers in accordance with local law and national regulators’ expectations.
The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) has published recommendations for the insurance sector in light of the United Kingdom withdrawing from the European Union. The recommendations are addressed to national regulators and aim to minimise detriment to policyholders and beneficiaries in a no-deal scenario.
EIOPA recommends that life insurance contracts between UK firms and UK-based customers who subsequently move to the EEA, should not be regarded as cross-border business. This includes existing pension contracts in accumulation that contain a ‘right or option’ for policyholders to realise their pension benefits. We welcome this recommendation. However, firms should be aware that whether you need regulatory permissions in a local EEA jurisdiction will ultimately depend on local law and the approach of the local authorities in that jurisdiction.
We are clear that firms’ decisions need to be guided by what is the right outcome for their customers. In many cases, it would be a poor outcome for the consumer for you simply to stop servicing them, for example for you to withhold payments to consumers to which they are entitled.
Many UK firms which intend to continue writing and servicing contracts concluded with customers who were based in an EEA country other than the UK when the contract was taken out, are planning to move these EEA customers’ policies to an EEA entity, for example by means of a Part 7 transfer.
For those UK firms which consider that it is too late to make a Part 7 application now, the UK government is legislating to extend the timeframe for completion of the Part 7 process for applications initiated before Exit day. EIOPA recommends that national regulators should allow such ‘portfolio transfers’, provided they were initiated before exit. The transfer needs to be permitted by the relevant national regulator, so if you intend to submit a Part 7 application but have yet to do so, you should speak to relevant regulators, including us and the PRA, without delay.