Since the end of 2017, the China Insurance Regulatory Committee has taken numerous regulatory measures to address disorder in the insurance market, some of which have brought certain domestic life insurers to task. The measures are notable, as they underline a renewed emphasis on controlling financial risks, which is of utmost concern for the government.
Certain captive insurers that lost or will lose membership in the US Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) system as a result of a 2016 rulemaking by the Federal Housing Finance Agency may get a reprieve under the Housing Opportunity Mortgage Expansion Act. A similar bill was also introduced in the House of Representatives. Significantly, the proposals provide only for the restoration of FHLB membership for captive insurers, not for new membership for those captive insurers that previously had no membership.
The Financial Market Authority (FMA) recently published a new circular concerning key information documents for packaged retail and insurance-based investment products. The FMA had already published a revised version of its circular on sound remuneration policies and practices on January 19 2018.
The National Insurance and Bonds Commission recently added two new articles to the Insurance and Bonding Sole Provisions which set out new surety insurance contract requirements. Contracts must now include, among other things, confirmation that the insurer is authorised to pay the indemnity for damages without prior notice or consent of the policyholder and that the indemnity may be paid as compensation or as a penalty for the damages suffered.
The Supreme Court recently dealt with the scope of a full and final settlement clause in an insurance matter. The decision confirms the rules for interpreting settlement agreements in insurance matters and emphasises the importance of carefully drafting the wording of such agreements if they are intended to be full and final settlement agreements of certain insurance claims.
The Insurance Supervisory Authority (ASF) recently published a consultation paper requesting comments on the draft regulatory norm, which sets out the general good provisions applicable to insurers acting in Portugal under the freedom of establishment or freedom to provide services. The draft sets out a number of general good provisions which would be applicable to the distribution of all types of insurance and provisions which would apply to the distribution of mandatory insurance and life insurance products.
With the aim of increasing competition in the insurance market, the parliamentary finance committee recently approved a proposed Ministry of Finance regulation that will reduce the minimum capital required for a new insurance company, thus enabling new players to enter this confined market. The change in equity requirements is notable and increases the opportunity for new investors to consider establishing insurance activities in Israel.
The Treasury, Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and Financial Conduct Authority recently clarified their approach to EEA-headquartered financial services firms wishing to carry on business in the United Kingdom post-Brexit. More recent evidence to the House of Commons Treasury Committee 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 United Kingdom's future relationship with the European Union.
The Insurance Authority has launched two new initiatives to promote the use of 'insurtech' in Hong Kong and encourage insurers and technology companies to team up to develop innovative insurance technology in light of recent market trends. The initiatives aim to promote the development of new technologies in Hong Kong's insurance sector and maintain Hong Kong's competitiveness in the Asian market.
IVASS, the Italian insurance regulator, recently provided details of an investigation into (re)insurance intermediaries' general understanding of cybersecurity-related issues and the remedies that they have implemented to protect their businesses and clients against the adverse effects of possible cyberattacks. IVASS will conduct another survey in 2019 to check that insurance intermediaries have complied with the proposed measures.
In a recent Supreme Court case, the insurer argued that it had been known that groundwater existed at a construction site before work commenced. Any damage caused as a result of groundwater was therefore foreseeable and not covered. The insured denied this and claimed that the insurance policy included no exclusion for groundwater damage. The court examined the contract's language to search for the contract's purpose based on the parties' intention before the insurance event.
There were a number of interesting developments in the Indian insurance industry in 2017, including a rapid increase in the number of insurers, new forms of online commerce and evolving business processes. From a regulatory perspective, 2017 also saw a continued overhaul of the existing insurance regulatory framework, with a slew of new regulations being introduced and existing guidance being amended and updated.
Following the resumption of bilateral trade treaty talks between China and the United States, a 100-day plan was mooted which promised to improve trade ties going forward. One area of focus in this regard has been the foreign ownership limits that apply to inbound investment in Chinese financial services groups, including those pertaining to the country's insurance industry. This policy shift has given rise to expectations that further foreign investment in the insurance industry will increase significantly.
A recent opinion published by the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority warns that UK insurers are unlikely to be able to meet obligations to European Economic Area (EEA) policyholders post-Brexit unless they mitigate the anticipated loss of passporting rights that will come with leaving the single market. The opinion raises concerns for UK insurers which have policyholders in EEA states other than the United Kingdom.
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has recently been receiving requests to allow private equity funds to acquire a majority stake in Indian insurers. In response to such requests from private equity funds, venture funds and alternate investment funds, the IRDAI released new guidelines to facilitate and regulate private equity funds' investment in insurers as investors and promoters.
In order to prevent the misuse of customer information, the National Insurance and Bonds Commission recently amended the Insurance and Bonding Sole Provisions with regard to information gathered electronically. Among other things, the amendments require insurers to implement security measures and mechanisms for the transfer, storage and processing of information generated electronically when contracting insurance and bonds and rendering other services to customers.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners recently adopted the Insurance Data Security Model Law. The model law builds on existing data privacy and consumer breach notification obligations by requiring insurance licensees to comply with detailed requirements regarding maintaining an information security programme and responding to and giving notification of cybersecurity events.
The Court of Appeal recently ordered two companies in liquidation to provide security to the defendants despite an after-the-event (ATE) policy. The decision confirms that the court can take account of a claimant's ATE insurance policy when considering whether to make an order for security for costs. However, the court stressed that the outcome of any security for costs application involving an ATE policy will depend on the terms of the particular policy.
By way of a May 2017 order, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India set up the Reinsurance Expert Committee to make recommendations for, among other things, the efficient implementation and operation of the order of preference for cessions specified under the Branch Office Regulations. The committee recently released its report, providing its analysis and recommendations on the terms of reference prescribed under the order.
A recent Tel Aviv Economic District Court case examined the issue of an insured's disclosure duty versus an insurer's obligation to conduct independent investigations. The court determined that an insured has a broad disclosure obligation during the underwriting of a policy, and that an insurance contract is subject to duties of good faith and fairness. Therefore, an insurer is entitled to rely on the information provided to it by an insured and is not obliged to conduct additional independent investigations.