Lloyds-linked insurer wants Irish licence to ensure access to EU

Insurer Beazley wants Lloyd’s to maintain licences

Donal O'Donovan

Insurance underwriter Beazley has said it is working to secure a European insurance licence for its Irish reinsurance business to ensure access to European Union markets following a Brexit.

Earlier this year Beazley said it would move its headquarters back to the UK from Ireland, after cutting its global tax bill by redomiciling here in 2009.

Its services include niche insurance covering the likes of fine art and kidnap and ransom protection.

Earlier this month the Irish Independent reported that the Central Bank had received a number of inquiries from UK-based insurance companies following the Brexit vote, including a number of Lloyd's underwriting syndicates, raising the prospect that more jobs could shift to Ireland.

Beazley is one of around 50 insurance companies associated with Lloyd's, the London market that matches insurance clients to underwriters.

"We're looking at getting the licences for our EU reinsurance company in Dublin and have an EU insurance company, which will give us some protection for growing in Europe into the future, if there are problems with the Lloyd's licences," Beazley chief executive Andrew Horton told Reuters.

The company moved its international corporate headquarters from London to Dublin's Northwood Business Campus in Santry in 2009. It has specialist insurance businesses in the UK, US, France, Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia.

The move to seek a licence here would pre-empt any risk of losing the automatic right to 'passport' services into the rest of the EU following a Brexit split.

Britain's insurance and banking industries - the biggest in Europe - are seen as some of the sectors with the most to lose following the Brexit vote, due to their reliance on the passporting system.

Dublin is seen as a favoured alternative to London for insurers due to its proximity, regulatory similarities and language, according to Reuters.

While being licensed in Dublin keeps options open for Beazley, Andrew Horton said the firm's main aim is to lobby with Lloyd's to ensure that the Lloyd's market itself manages to maintain the insurance licences that allow it access to the EU bloc.

The company is keen to do all it can to ensure continued access to Europe as it hopes to replicate there the success of its US speciality lines business - which covers niche types of insurance ranging from fine art to kidnap and ransom.

Beazley, which provides marine, casualty and property insurance and reinsurance, reported a 3pc fall in first-half pretax profit as premium rates declined for much of the large risk business the company underwrites in London.

Gross written premiums, however, rose about 2pc to $1.12bn over the period, buoyed by strong growth of the firm's speciality lines business in the United States, which accounts for about 85pc to 90pc of its specialty lines business.

Horton said Beazley expected its US and UK speciality lines business to compensate for fewer premiums written in marine and property accounts in the second half.

Over the six months ended June 30, pre-tax profit fell to $150.2m due to fewer catastrophes, against a record $154.5m in the first half of last year. The Canadian wildfire was the only significant catastrophe over the period, Mr Horton said. (Additional reporting Reuters)