How will Brexit Affect the Insurance Industry?
For the insurance industry, the uncertainty of Brexit is an anxious time. Immediately following the referendum, shares in insurance companies fell heavily, with some insurers falling over 15%.[i]
Answering the title question; “how will Brexit affect the insurance industry?” is not straightforward. The simple answer is in fact, “we don’t know;” an unsatisfying answer for an industry that bases its entire business strategy on reliably predicting risk. However, while no one can yet be sure of all the effects, it is possible to make a number of assumptions based on what we already know; and there are advantages as well as concerns. Most insurance companies are now looking to the future positively and strategizing ways in which they can benefit from Brexit.
Restrictions for working throughout the EU
As a member of the EU single market, UK insurance companies can currently underwrite businesses throughout the EU, on the basis of their UK authorisations. Once the UK exits the EU, this right may end. This is not an insurmountable problem, and it is one that many UK based insurance companies are already seeking to overcome, by creating subsidiaries in the EU. [ii] However, it is certainly an issue that companies need to think about, well in advance of the exit from the EU.
There will be a financial cost
Certainly, there will be ways in which the industry will feel the financial cost of leaving the EU. This will happen in a number of ways. The weakening pound may mean people are less inclined to engage in activities that require additional insurance. There will be costs involved in changes to structures or policies as regulations may change. Documents will need to be updated and staff will need to be educated about new systems. Some companies may also invest in ways to continue trading abroad, in case reciprocal trading agreements are not reached. However, there are ways in which all these costs can be mitigated by increasing revenue in other areas.
Some areas of insurance will benefit
Some types of insurance may benefit from Brexit. For example, if the reciprocal healthcare that is currently in place across the EU ceases to be in place for UK citizens, people will be requiring more comprehensive travel insurance within Europe. It may also change car insurance for people travelling abroad, as well as business insurances for people working across Europe. In addition, while the low value of the pound has had a negative impact, there is also an opportunity; to attract customers from the EU and beyond with the products on offer from the UK’s well-respected insurance sector, at a tempting cost due to the favourable exchange rate.
Many laws will, most likely, remain the same
Immediately abandoning all EU laws would be disastrous for the UK. Indeed, many EU directives have been enshrined in UK law already. This issue is one that politicians will be working on extensively in the lead-up to Brexit, but the likelihood is that all EU law will initially be frozen into UK law, to allow policy makers an extension of time to decide how best to move forward. [iii] The likelihood is that many laws will remain the same, meaning that insurers will not need to worry about rushing to comply with multiple new legislations.
Some restrictions may relax
However, some restrictions may be relaxed, giving the insurance industry an advantage. It is vital that the industry keeps a close eye on legislations that may revoked, making room for new policy offers. For example, the EU Gender Directive of 2012 made it illegal for insurers to use gender to calculate risks, meaning that insurance costs for many women increased. It may be possible that some restrictive laws could be repealed, leaving insurance companies free to calculate risks as before. [iv]
Likelihood of a strategic “deal” for insurance companies.
British insurance continues to be some of the most well respected in the world and the largest insurance industry in Europe. Paying around 12 billion in taxes, the UK government is sure to be keen to ensure that the industry doesn’t suffer in the aftermath of Brexit. [v] At the same time, EU insurers will still want to be able to trade with the UK’s booming market. There is great hope for a good deal for the insurance sector.
Look for opportunities
At this uncertain time, it is vital that insurance companies keep up to date with current negotiations and are ready to take advantage of any opportunities that arise. Insurers need to be aware of any changes, making the most of opportunities, as well as lobbying for favorable legislation.
Are you looking for forward thinking, strategic individuals to help move your company forward through the uncertainties of Brexit? Contact specialist recruitment agency, Aston Charles to discuss your recruitment requirements.
[i] Financial Times. 2016. Insurance Sector Hit Hard by Brexit Vote. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/518b8902-39e9-11e6-9a05-82a9b15a8ee7. [Accessed 01 December 2017].
[ii] Expert Guide. 2017. Expert Guides - The Impact of Brexit on Insurance and Reinsurance. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.expertguides.com/articles/the-impact-of-brexit-on-insurance-and-reinsurance/arrrdloq. [Accessed 01 December 2017].
[iii] LawCareers.Net. 2017. Brexit: implications for UK insurance and reinsurance markets - Commercial Question. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.lawcareers.net/Information/CommercialQuestion/Cooley-UK-LLP-Brexit-implications-for-UK-insurance-and-reinsurance-markets. [Accessed 01 December 2017].
[iv] Quote Line Direct. 2017. How will Brexit affect consumer insurance and the wider industry?. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.quotelinedirectblog.co.uk/brexit-insurance/. [Accessed 01 December 2017].
[v] ABI, 2014. UK Insurance Key Facts. London: ABI.