A Guide To Cross Border Life Assurance From Ireland

Author:Mr Andrew Bates, Tom Carney and Breeda Cunningham
Profession:Dillon Eustace


Ireland has become one of the leading European jurisdictions for domiciling head office life insurers targeting the wider European market place for a variety of reasons including:

EU Membership, opening up the EU on a freedom of services and / or branch basis long standing legislative and regulatory framework for life business 12.5% corporation tax rate international financial services hub (asset management, investment funds, cross-border insurance / reinsurance, captive and SPRV domicile) availability of experienced TPAs, actuarial consultants and other advisers flexible labour laws availability of qualified staff, and grant aid available in certain cases from government agencies. International life assurers writing foreign cover from Irish operations include Allianz Global Life, Arca Vita International, Area Life International, Aviva Life International, AXA Life Europe, AXA MPS Financial, AZ Life, Barclays Assurance, Canada Life Assurance Europe, CitiLife Financial, CNP Europe, CUNA Mutual, Darta Saving, Eagle Star European Life, Eurizon Life, Generali Pan Europe, Hansard, Hartford, HSBC Life, Inora Life, Irish Life International, Legal & General Mediolanum, MetLife, Oney Life, Prudential International, Scottish Mutual International, SEB, Sella, Skandia, St. James' Place International, The Lawrence Life, UBS International and Vicenza (Central Bank Industry Registers, June 30, 2010).

Latest available aggregate industry statistics for end 2010 show that life business gross premium income amounted to €28.23 billion split between €10.67 billion of Irish risk and €17.56 billion of foreign risk.

Types of business written from Ireland by cross-border operations include:

traditional unit linked business portfolio bonds index-linked or tracker products (with or without capital protection) group pension products, and variable annuity business (including GMXBs) The purpose of this Guide is to outline the main legal and regulatory requirements for establishing cross-border life operations in Ireland, the taxation implications of same, the passporting regime and the organisational and ongoing operational requirements that need to be addressed by Irish head office operations.

Related Dillon Eustace publications include:

A Guide to Solvency II Transferring an EEA Insurance Undertaking to Ireland Cross-Border Insurance Portfolio Transfers Increased Corporate Governance Requirements for Insurers We also publish a quarterly Insurance Legal and Regulatory Update available at www.dilloneustace.ie


Although Ireland has regulated life assurance activities for over 100 years, with many provisions of its historic regulatory regime still relevant today, the key driver of insurance regulation and the basis for the development of its cross-border industry, for the last 30 years, has been its membership of the European Union ("EU") and the harmonised insurance regime which has evolved at EU level since the introduction of the First Life Directive in 1979.

The Irish legal framework governing insurance business is set out in pre-existing domestic legislation as amended and supplemented by national laws which implement EU legislative provisions. This framework is further supported by Guidance Notes and policy papers issued by the Central Bank of Ireland (the "Central Bank").

We have summarised the main pieces of European and domestic legislation below. A full list of applicable domestic legislation is provided in Appendix A.

  1. European Legislation

    The main pieces of European legislation in the life assurance sector are:

    Consolidated Life Directive (2002/83/EC)

    The Consolidated Life Directive consolidated and amended the First (79/267/EEC), Second (90/619/EEC) and Third (92/96/EEC) Life Directives which had established a common framework for the authorization, solvency and operation of life assurance undertakings within the EU. The common framework enables entities authorised in one EU Member State to write cover in other Member States on the basis of a single authorisation utilising the freedom of services and/or establishment options common to all financial services sectors within the EU.

    Solvency II Directive (2009/138/EC)

    Solvency II seeks to enhance the supervision and prudential regulation of insurance and reinsurance undertakings, particularly through the imposition of new solvency and governance requirements. It also establishes a new framework for EU regulation through the recasting of 13 insurance directives into a single text. It will apply to all insurance and reinsurance entities with an annual gross premium income exceeding €5 million or gross technical provisions in excess of €25 million. Solvency II was originally due to be implemented by Member States by October 31, 2012, however, this deadline has been delayed until at least...

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