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Insurance Contract Law: Expert report pinpoints obstacles to cross-border trade

Commission Européenne - IP/14/194   27/02/2014

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European Commission

Press release

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:

  • For many life, motor or liability insurance products sold to consumers, insurance companies have to adapt their contracts to the national rules where the policyholder is based. This means they have to develop new contracts to comply, for instance, with rules on pre-contractual information.

  • Contract law differences impede the supply of insurance products across borders. They increase costs for the cross-border provision of insurance, create legal uncertainty and make it very difficult for consumers and businesses to take out insurance in other Member States.

  • Contract law obstacles are found primarily in the sector of life insurance, as well as areas such as liability and motor insurance. The report finds that problems are less likely to occur in insurance for large risks markets if linked to a trade or certain insurances for bigger companies – such as in the area of transport insurance.

Background

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:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/contract/files/expert_groups/insurance/final_report.pdf

Expert group on insurance contract law – thematic page:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/contract/insurance/expert-group/index_en.htm

European Commission – contract law:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/contract/index_en.htm

Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:

http://ec.europa.eu/reding

Follow the Vice-President on Twitter: @VivianeRedingEU

Follow EU Justice on Twitter: @EU_Justice

Contacts :

Mina Andreeva (+32 2 299 13 82)

Natasha Bertaud (+32 2 296 74 56)

For the public: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 or by e­mail

ANNEX

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

Organisations

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


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