In a recent case, the Commercial Court found in favour of the defendant insurer in regard to the disputed construction of an insolvency exclusion in a professional indemnity insurance policy. The case is a useful restatement of the law on the interpretation of exclusion clauses in insurance contracts. It also serves as a reminder that policyholders should not assume, simply because an exclusion is widely drafted, that it will not be upheld by the courts in the event of a dispute.
The Supreme Court recently referred a case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) concerning the demarcation of insurance mediation and investment advice, and the extent to which the statutory liability insurance for insurance intermediaries should respond to claims in respect of such services. In tandem with the ECJ proceedings, the Swedish Ministry of Finance proposed that the EU Insurance Distribution Directive 2016/97 be transposed into local law by way of introducing an insurance distribution act.
The draft Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill 2017 has recently attracted significant attention. This is mainly due to the objections raised by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), among other parties. Although the exact nature of the IRDAI's objections to the bill are unclear, a balance may need to be struck between the powers of the existing sectoral regulators and the proposed Resolution Corporation.
Article 117 of the Insurance Code provides that premiums paid to intermediaries and monies used to settle claims or due by insurers must be kept in separate accounts, the holder of which can be an intermediary that acts expressly in such a capacity. No seizure or distraint of the separate account can be carried out by creditors other than policyholders and insurers. IVASS recently clarified a number of issues in this regard following an investigation into the compliance of intermediaries with said requirements.
China's shift towards a knowledge-based digital economy is fuelling growth in the insurance sector, which aligns with the government's plan to double the rate of insurance penetration by 2020. By this date, insurance premium income is expected to have reached Rmb4.5 trillion. If this aim is achieved, China will have usurped the United States to become the world's largest insurance market, which bodes well for overseas insurers looking to participate in the domestic market.
The Insurance Authority will begin to collect a levy from policyholders through premium payments to insurers from January 1 2018. Holders of life insurance policies and general insurance policies (eg, travel, motor, property and household) will be required to pay the levy; however, reinsurers, policies underwritten by captive insurers and marine, aviation and goods-in-transit businesses are exempt.
As the Indian insurance market develops and matures further, Indian insurers and insurance intermediaries will aim to introduce public issues and list on recognised stock exchanges in order to raise more funds from the public and provide liquidity to their existing shareholders. Companies looking to be initial public offering ready should focus on ensuring optimum regulatory compliance and rectifying any identified compliance issues, which will go a long way in simplifying the process of listing.
A new wave of 'insurtech' companies (ie, insurers engaging with online distribution models and tech companies foraying into insurance) are recognising the gains to be made by entering into this emerging market. However, these developments by no means spell the end of the larger, more traditional Chinese insurers, which are adapting their longer-term business development strategies in response.
The National Insurance and Bonds Commission has issued a temporary measure to enable insureds and their beneficiaries to be immediately compensated for damages suffered as a consequence of the recent earthquakes that affected several areas of Mexico. The temporary measure applies to Mexican insurers that have ceded risks to reinsurers and allows them to use funds to meet assumed risks and recover compensation from reinsurers at a later date.
The European Court of Human Rights recently concluded that Switzerland violated Article 8 of the European Human Rights Convention due to surveillance of an insured party. The case brings uncertainty regarding the extent of observation under Swiss law. Article 8 guarantees the fundamental right to respect private and family life. In its statement, the court held that Swiss federal law offers no precise legal basis for photo and video surveillance of insured parties.
The Central District Court recently declined a jewellers' block policy claim after the insurers proved that the claim had been filed with fraudulent intent. The case concerned an Israeli diamonteer who claimed that $10 million worth of diamonds had been stolen from him under the threat of violence. However, following an investigation by the insurers, it was revealed that a number of the stolen diamonds were still in the claimant's possession after the alleged robbery.
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India recently notified the Motor Insurance Service Providers Guidelines to identify and regulate the role of automobile dealers in distributing and servicing motor insurance products. This move to recognise the role of automobile dealers gives legitimacy to existing practices of solicitation and servicing of motor insurance.
Although the Convention on the Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims 1976 has yet to be domesticated in Nigeria, certain laws provide for the limitation of liability in some instances. However, the question remains as to whether the insurer – where the law permits an assured to limit its liability and it makes a claim – must indemnify the assured up to the limit of its liability or to the fullest extent of the policy.
A recent Supreme Court decision confirming that third-party litigation funding in return for a share of the proceeds is unlawful in Ireland has put after-the-event (ATE) insurance back in the spotlight as the only legitimate alternative method of funding litigation. Although a relatively new insurance product, a number of insurers are now providing ATE insurance in Ireland.
The National Insurance and Bonds Commission recently amended the Sole Provisions on Insurance and Bonds in order to increase legal certainty with regard to the regulatory framework that applies to actuarial, financial and investment functions. These amendments aim to ensure that the commission has the information required to take necessary regulatory action in the event that irregularities are detected and prompt intervention is needed.
The Minimum Competency Code 2017 has been introduced to incorporate the implementation of the EU Insurance Distribution Directive, the EU Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II and associated European Securities and Markets Authority guidelines and the European Regulations 2016. The main changes under the code relate to the qualification and experience requirements of the staff of financial services providers.
IVASS, the Italian insurance regulator, recently published a consultation document which includes a proposal to amend Regulation 35/2010 on the disclosure duties for proposers and the advertising of insurance products. The consultation document's publication follows the recent approval of EU Regulation 2017/1469 and sets out a standardised presentation format for insurance product information documents.
The Insurance Agents Registration Board recently initiated disciplinary proceedings against a former AIA International Limited agent for breaches of the Code of Practice issued by the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers. The resulting disciplinary action included a payment order of HK$806,200 against AIA; however, this decision was reversed by the Court of First Instance following a judicial review.
The National Council of Private Insurance recently submitted for public consultation a draft regulation on the acceptance of retrocession by insurers and its intermediation. Among other things, the draft regulation allows insurers to accept retrocession risks from foreign reinsurers not registered with the Superintendence of Private Insurers (SUSEP) through foreign reinsurance brokers also not registered with the SUSEP, provided that the local insurer is authorised to operate in the lines of risks accepted.
Recent ransomware attacks across the globe have once again brought to the fore the all-encompassing enterprise risk management challenge that cyber-risks present to corporations. The raft of operational consequences of such an attack present an ever-burgeoning opportunity for insurers to expand further into this potentially lucrative new line of business. This is particularly pertinent in China, where there has been a shift towards increasing digitisation and automation in various high-tech industries.