Brussels, 27 February 2014
Insurance Contract Law: Expert report pinpoints obstacles to cross-border trade
An expert group set up by the European Commission to examine barriers to cross-border trade in insurance law across Member States (IP/13/74) delivered its comprehensive report today. The report finds that differences in contract laws impede the cross-border supply of insurance products by increasing costs, creating legal uncertainty and making it hard for consumers and businesses to take out insurance in other EU Member States. At present, a citizen moving to work in another EU country may have to take out a new car insurance policy, or face problems having their rights under a private pension plan recognised if taken out in his country of origin. Similarly, companies with branches in several EU countries may have to get separate policies under different conditions in each country instead of a single policy for their entire EU business. The European Commission will now follow up on the report consulting consumers, businesses and the insurance sector on possible solutions.
“More than 20 years after the completion of our Single Market, cross-border trade in the insurance sector is far from being smooth,” said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner. “The reality is: only a few customers can buy insurance products in other countries, with just 0.6% of all motor insurance premiums and 2.8% of property insurance premiums offered across EU borders. The expert group report published today shows that some of these problems stem from differences in contract law. There is a large potential for the provision of cross-border insurance products. Let's make sure we do our best to exploit it. This is crucial for maintaining the competitive position of the EU's top insurers in the global market."
The Expert Group on European Insurance Contract Law was tasked with identifying if and to what extent contract law differences hinder cross-border provision and use of insurance products. Composed of 20 members from 12 Member States and with different occupational experiences, the Expert Group held ten meetings in 2013 and 2014. The report issued today comes just one day after the European Parliament gave its strong backing to an optional European Sales Law to remove contract law related barriers to the marketing of digital products and related services across the EU (MEMO/14/137).
The main findings of the report on European Insurance Contract Law are:
On 11 October 2011, the European Commission proposed an optional Common European Sales Law to boost trade and expand consumer choice in areas outside financial services (IP/11/1175, MEMO/11/680). On 21 September 2011 Vice-President Viviane Reding met with leaders of European insurance companies to start a dialogue with the insurance sector (MEMO/11/624).
On 31 January 2013, the Commission established an Expert Group (IP/13/74) as a follow-up to this meeting and concerns raised by stakeholders during the consultation on a "Green Paper on policy options for progress towards a European contract law for consumers and businesses" which preceded this proposal (IP/10/872). In particular, insurance representatives pointed out that it was currently not possible to offer uniform insurance products across the EU based on a single European legal framework. They noted that differences in insurance contract laws generated additional costs and legal uncertainty in cross-border trade in insurance products.
The European Parliament subsequently called on the Commission to examine the situation in the insurance sector in more detail (EP Resolution 2011/2013/(INI)).
The Expert Group on Insurance Contract Law brought together key stakeholders, including insurance providers, representatives of consumer and business users, academics and legal professionals, selected in a competitive selection procedure. It met on a monthly basis.
For more information
Expert group report:
Expert group on insurance contract law – thematic page:
European Commission – contract law:
Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:
Follow the Vice-President on Twitter: @VivianeRedingEU
Follow EU Justice on Twitter: @EU_Justice
EXPERT GROUP ON THE EUROPEAN INSURANCE CONTRACT LAW
Individual expert appointed in his/her personal capacity
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Jürgen Basedow - Germany - co-rapporteur for section report on Life Insurance and rapporteur for the Final Report
Prof. Dr. Helmut Heiss - LL.M., Switzerland, - rapporteur for section report on EU Law and Differences between national insurance contract
Mr. Piotr Czublun - Legal Advisor, Poland
Individual expert appointed as representative of an interest
Dr. Jorge Pegado Liz - Attorney at law, Portugal
Dr. Juan Bataller-Grau - Catedrático de Derecho Mercantile, Spain
Mr. Yannis Samothrakis, - Attorney at law, Partner,Clyde & Co LLP., France/Greece, rapporteur for section report on The Impact of Differences in Insurance Contract Law Applicable to All Classes of Insurance on Cross-Border Insurance – part I
Prof. Jérôme Kullmann - France
Associazione Nazionale fra le Imprese Assicuratrici, ANIA, Association, Italy, represented by Prof. Diana Cerini - rapporteur for section report on Liability Insurance
The European Consumer Organisation, BEUC, Association, EU, represented by Jean-Paul Coteur
European Federation of Insurance Intermediaries, BIPAR, Association, EU, represented by Dr. Svenja Richartz
Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe, CCBE, Association, EU, represented by Dr. Elisabeth Scheuba
Fédération Française des Sociétés d'Assurances, FFSA, Association, France, represented by François Rosier
Gesamtverband der Deutschen Versicherungswirtschaft e.V., GDV, Association, Germany, represented by Dr. Natascha Sasserath-Alberti
Insurance Europe, Association, EU, represented by Malene Bye Rasmussen
Lloyd's Market Association, Corporate, United Kingdom, represented by Kees van der Klugt
Standard Life, Corporate, United Kingdom, represented by Katie Paterson – rapporteur on section report on Economic Facts and General Framework
The Law Society of England and Wales, Association, United Kingdom, represented by Joanna Page – rapporteur for section report on The Impact of Differences in Insurance Contract Law Applicable to All Classes of Insurance on Cross-Border Insurance – part II
European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, UEAPME, Association, EU, represented by Luc Hendrickx
Unión Española de Entidades Aseguradoras y Reaseguradoras ,UNESPA, Association, Spain, represented by Nuria Castañer Carrasco – rapporteur for section report on Motor Liability Insurance
Verbond van Verzekeraars, Association, Netherlands, represented by Erik Schouten - co-rapporteur for section report on Life Insurance
In addition and depending on the topic discussed during the meeting further organisations and experts were also represented on an ad hoc basis