The regulatory requirements on insurance companies have changed dramatically over the last 20 years. There has been increasing regulation of insurance products rather than simply regulation of the prudential aspects of an insurance company's business, and the creep of EU regulation into both long-term and general insurance.

The products offered have changed too, with the move away from the complex and opaque with-profits policies to cleaner unit-linked products, for example, and the establishment of DC pension products with different requirements from the traditional DB pension insurance products historically offered.

With increasing regulation, we have been at the forefront of the development of insurance products – from preparing unit-linked products documentation in plain English, to some of the first SIPP products, and devising clear and concise disclosure documentation meeting and exceeding the regulatory standards.

Insurance companies are looking for ways of improving their balance sheets that may involve the transfer of businesses to other insurers. We are experienced in the various methods of achieving this, ranging from the transfers of administration, reinsurance and court-approved transfers of business, where we have pioneered techniques for friendly societies so as to allow the terms of business to be rewritten as part of the transfer.

We act for a wide range of insurance company clients on a variety of non-contentious and contentious matters. We have a reputation for innovative product structuring work for a variety of businesses that issue insurance contracts or have products with insurance contract components. We also advise institutions seeking to set up insurance-based investment arrangements.

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Notable deals / highlights

  • Advised on the establishment of a closed-ended corporate fund for investors seeking exposure to the Lloyd's insurance market, with a new authorised firm acting as its manager complying with Lloyd's regulatory requirements and also having regard to Lloyd's controller requirements.

  • Advised an Italian insurance company undertaking general insurance activities in the UK on a cross-border passport basis, regarding reporting formalities under the FSA Rules and registration with HMRC in respect of insurance premium tax applying to policies issued by it.

  • Advised Peugeot's group entities – PSA Insurance and Banque PSA Finance UK – on the provision of their in-house Maltese Insurance Companies' general insurance products supporting the Peugeot car business in the UK in place of previous third party insurance arrangements.

  • Acted for Assurant, a New York Stock Exchange listed insurance company, in relation to the run-off of a personal accident book and in this role conducting or advising on many high value arbitrations, negotiations and ancillary Court proceedings in England and in the USA. Most recently acted on a large and complex commercial court claim against the broker Willis, which resulted in a settlement payment by Willis of $139m.

  • Advised various corporate clients, and notable travel firms, on the implications of the Insurance Mediation Directive for their businesses and how they could be reorganised effectively.

  • Advised numerous pension scheme clients on their insurance contact arrangements and negotiation of appropriate terms for investment in bespoke unit linked insurance product structures offered for particular purposes, some with underlying fund structures and derivative structuring, and the consequential counterparty risk and other risks arising.

  • Advised on insurance company mergers and transfers of business for various clients including Weslyan, London and Northern Mutual Assurance Society and Hearts of Oak &CE.

Expertise spotlight