The Central Bank of Ireland (the ‘Central Bank’) has recently published the second issue of its Intermediary Times for 2019 (the ‘Newsletter’). The Newsletter contains updates relevant to insurance intermediaries including the latest on Brexit preparations, an important reminder on compliance with the Central Bank's Fitness & Probity regime as well as highlighting changes to the Investment Intermediaries Act 1995 (the ‘IIA’) affecting the authorisation of certain insurance intermediaries.
In the Newsletter, the Central Bank emphasises the need for insurance intermediaries which are involved in cross-border mediation activity to ensure they are sufficiently prepared for a ‘no deal’ Brexit. The Central Bank states that insurance intermediaries must carefully assess their obligations to both existing and prospective customers and take the necessary action to mitigate any potential risk. The ongoing requirement to provide clear information to affected customers as soon as it is available is also highlighted.
The Newsletter refers to the publication in February 2019 by the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) of its Recommendations for the insurance sector in light of the United Kingdom withdrawing from the European Union (the ‘Recommendations’). In particular, the Central Bank highlights Recommendation 9 which includes the requirement that where UK insurance intermediaries intend to continue or commence distribution activities to EU27 policyholders and for EU27 risks post-Brexit, they must be established and registered in the EU27 in line with the relevant provisions of the Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD).
The Central Bank also draws attention to Regulation 9(9) of the European Union (Insurance Distribution) Regulations 2018 (IDR) which provides that intermediaries and (re)insurers must only use the (re)insurance distribution services of EU-registered (re)insurance intermediaries or ancillary insurance intermediaries.
Important reminder regarding the Fitness & Probity regime
The Newsletter contains an important reminder from the Central Bank regarding its 'Dear CEO' letter (the ‘Letter’) recently issued to all regulated firms, including insurance intermediaries, relating to their legal obligations under the Central Bank's Fitness & Probity regime (the ‘F&P Regime’). The Letter includes details of specific shortcomings which the Central Bank has identified concerning compliance by regulated firms with the F&P Regime. The Central Bank is very clear in the Letter that it expects the CEO of insurance intermediaries, in conjunction with the board of directors, to consider the contents of the Letter carefully and take any action required to address shortcomings in compliance with the F&P Regime. For more information on this important topic, please see our previous briefing here.
Review of IIA authorisation
The Central Bank reminds insurance intermediaries which currently hold an authorisation under the IIA to review the activities that it currently undertakes to determine if the authorisation is still required in light of recent changes introduced by the IDR. With effect from 1 October 2018, the IDR removed ‘insurance policies’ from the scope of the IIA. Accordingly, in circumstances where an intermediary is carrying on insurance distribution activity only, as defined under the IDR, the Central Bank states that it should seek the revocation of its IIA authorisation by completing the relevant form available on the Central Bank website. If you are unclear whether the activities performed by your firm fall within the scope of the IIA and/or the IDR, please contact us.
The Newsletter also contains a reminder to all retail intermediaries to ensure a Retail Intermediary Annual Return (RIAR) is filed with the Central Bank no later than six months following the firm's financial year-end. The Central Bank warns intermediaries to ensure that all figures entered in the Financial Information Form of the RIAR are based on documentary evidence available to authorised officers of the Central Bank in the event of an inspection.
Finally, the Central Bank confirms that it will host the Retail Intermediary Annual Roadshow in November 2019 with dates, times and location to be confirmed in the coming months. This is an important opportunity for insurance intermediaries to hear directly from the Central Bank across a range of relevant topics.