Before the second half of the 1980s, the insurance sector in Luxembourg was largely focused on the domestic market. With the gradual development of the European internal insurance market and the introduction of the freedom of services regime at the beginning of the 1990s, the Luxembourg insurance market witnessed significant growth, with foreign insurance companies establishing significant operations in the country. The development of the reinsurance business started in Luxembourg with the introduction of the reinsurance law in 1984. This provided large multinationals and financial institutions seeking reinsurance with a stable and reliable regulatory environment. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has nurtured its international and European insurance and reinsurance ecosystems ever since, resulting in its position today as one of the main cross-border insurance and reinsurance centres in Europe.
Stability is the cornerstone of any leading insurance business. The insurance sector in Luxembourg has grown hand in hand with Luxembourg’s financial centre, benefiting from its political, economic and fiscal stability and a triple-A rating from all major rating agencies (S&P, Moody’s and Fitch).
As with banks and investment funds, insurance companies rely on Luxembourg’s international talent pool and its unique cross-border financial expertise. These highly skilled multilingual insurance professionals work alongside a workforce experienced in investment fund management. The insurance industry has easy access to all those skills which are so key to the sector, such as risk selection, underwriting and analytics.
Insurance sales teams in Luxembourg speak the client’s language, providing insurance products tailored to clients’ specific needs across the EU, fully in line with local regulations and tax laws. Long-standing cross-border insurance expertise, combined with a competent dedicated regulator results in world-class international wealth solutions and innovative insurance and reinsurance products for demanding corporate and retail clients.
Freedom of Services in the EU
We found the CAA to be very responsive to the questions that we asked. They were always professional and supportive throughout the whole process. The fact that we can communicate with them in English is extremely helpful for the company as well.
The Freedom of Services regime, introduced by the third EU life and non-life insurance directives and transposed into Luxembourg legislation in 1992, has been a key building bloc in the creation of a Single Market for the EU insurance industry. It provides for a single system for the authorisation and financial supervision of insurance companies by the Member State in which they have their head office.
The EU freedom of services regime gives us flexibility in terms of providing solutions to our customers. We have a European company with operations all over Europe and we can service our clients out of Luxembourg. About 60% of our EU business is cross-border.
This single authorisation (« European passport ») issued by the home Member State provides EU-incorporated insurance and reinsurance companies with EU passporting rights, allowing them to carry on their insurance and reinsurance businesses anywhere in the EU. Insurance businesses can either open an agency or branch in an EU member state under EU rules of establishment or, under freedom of services rules, they can provide services without having to be established in each jurisdiction in which they wish to operate.
When an insurance or reinsurance company has its headquarters in Luxembourg it is supervised by the separate and dedicated insurance regulator, the Commissariat aux Assurances (CAA). The legislative framework applicable to insurance contracts distributed in other EU countries by Luxembourg insurers is the one where the contracts are sold, i.e. the country of residence of the subscriber.
Consequently, these contracts benefit from the comfort of a familiar framework in terms of language, marketing, contract law and tax legislation. Under Luxembourg legislation, life insurance policies are designed to fully comply with the legal and tax requirements of the subscriber’s country of residence.
Luxembourg insurance professionals have developed a unique level of cross-border expertise in this field over the past three decades. The multijurisdictional expertise and multilingualism of the Luxembourg insurance industry and workforce allow insurers to tackle the legal, cultural and linguistic idiosyncrasies of all EU Member States from a “one-stop shop” at the heart of Europe.
Luxembourg insurers tailor their products to the specific requirements of each different European market. By centralising core insurance functions (underwriting, claims and investments) in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, European and international insurers benefit from significant economies of scales while reducing the compliance costs of having to set up entities in each separate EU jurisdiction in which they operate.
A Dedicated Insurance Regulator
The recent introduction of the European Solvency II regime in 2016 substantially changed the Luxembourg regulatory framework for the insurance and reinsurance sector. The regime harmonised the pan-European supervisory system and related insurance regulations. The legislation addresses the amount of capital that European insurance and reinsurance companies must hold to reduce the risk of insolvency. At the EU level, regular reviews of the Solvency II regime have been undertaken since its implementation to ensure it remains fit for purpose.
Luxembourg’s insurance regulator the CAA is a public institution, operating under the authority of the Luxembourg Ministry of Finance. It is exclusively in charge of the supervision of the insurance and reinsurance industry in Luxembourg. Its overriding goal is to ensures optimal protection for all subscribers.
Having a dedicated insurance regulator is great. They understand the language and complexity of insurance. The risk equation is very different from retail banking or investment management. Not all regulators around the world are capable of assessing such internal model frameworks. The CAA is a qualified and expert counterparty.
The CAA’s powers of supervision encompass Luxembourg-incorporated insurance and reinsurance undertakings, including professionals in the sector. Regulatory supervision also extends to activities carried out in Luxembourg by foreign entities through their Luxembourg branches under the Freedom of Services regime.
It is important to have a regulator who knows your business and understands your future needs. I am quite sure that after Covid-19 the needs of our clients will change. In adapting to this, you can have the best ideas in the world, but you will need the support of your regulator if you are going to achieve them. In Luxembourg, you are the regulator’s first concern.
Luxembourg insurance and reinsurance companies, as well as Luxembourg branches and subsidiaries of foreign insurers, must obtain an authorisation before starting operations. Authorisations are approved by the Ministry of Finance, with the CAA doing the work of reviewing, evaluating and granting applications. Each authorisation is insurance branch related and granted to insurance undertakings in relation to one or several specific types of insurance. Authorisations cover different kinds of risks and relate to either the life or the non-life insurance sectors.
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