Monday 25 March 2019

Chairman of Europe's insurance regulator calls for more powers to prevent cross-border insurers from collapsing

(L-R) Kevin Thompson, CEO Insurance Ireland, Gabriel Bernardino, EIOPA, Ann Kelleher, CEO Ark Life and Anthony Brennan, Insurance Ireland President
Pic. Keith Arkins Media
(L-R) Kevin Thompson, CEO Insurance Ireland, Gabriel Bernardino, EIOPA, Ann Kelleher, CEO Ark Life and Anthony Brennan, Insurance Ireland President Pic. Keith Arkins Media
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

The chairman of Europe's insurance regulator has called for more powers to prevent cross-border insurers like Qudos or Setanta collapsing.

Gabriel Bernardino told an event in Dublin that he wants to be able to take a more preventive approach rather than tackling issues as they arise.

EU insurers can do business here because of the single market. But the collapse of entities regulated abroad has hit Irish policyholders in the pocket, and raised questions about whether foreign-regulated insurers should be allowed here at all.

Mr Bernardino, chairman of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority, said that the cross-border insurance regime was an asset that should be preserved.

"It can create more choice, it can create some competition if properly done of course, it can also create added value for consumers and for businesses."

He acknowledged however that there has been poor supervision in some countries, adding that when cases like Qudos or Setanta arise it "severely disrupts public trust in the function of insurance and the internal market."

"We shouldn't have these zombie companies in the market. This is bad for everyone," he said.

"I don't want to be in a situation where we are just tackling the issues when it is too late. We need to do a much more preventive approach."

He said his organisation needs beefed up powers for giving orders to domestic insurance supervisors.

"We need...to have the possibility to give clear and concrete recommendations to the home authority. And that this is dealt with as a recommendation coming from a European authority that needs to work on a 'comply or explain' basis.

"Nowadays I tell you we have been giving a lot of recommendations. Many of them have been followed, but others not so much. And that is not optimal, that doesn't deliver at the end of the day good supervision of the internal market."

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