A new monograph written in German deals with cross-border insurance brokerage in the Single Market (Christian Rüsing, Grenzüberschreitende Versicherungsvermittlung im Binnenmarkt, 2020). The monograph is aimed at practitioners, national and European supervisory authorities as well as academics dealing with private international law, its relationship to international supervisory law and insurance law.
This book complements studies on the single market in insurance, which the EU has strived to establish for decades. EU institutions have primarily facilitated cross-border business of insurers by implementing rules on international supervisory law in the Solvency II Directive and on private international law for insurance contracts in Article 7 of the Rome I Regulation. The study focuses on intermediaries, such as insurance brokers and agents.
While intermediaries play a vital role in the cross-border distribution of insurance products, clear conflict-of-law rules for insurance intermediation are missing. The Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD), which intends to promote cross-border activities of intermediaries, focuses on the harmonisation of the substantive law on insurance intermediation, apart from provisions on international administrative cooperation. Furthermore, it has not fully harmonised national laws. Insurance intermediaries providing services in other countries are therefore still required to be aware of the relevant national regulatory requirements and private laws they have to comply with.
International Supervisory Law
With regard to international supervisory law, the author analyses where intermediaries have to be registered and which regulatory requirements they have to meet when exercising activities in another member state by using freedom to provide services or the freedom of establishment. One of the key findings is that although the IDD is partly based on the country of origin principle, intermediaries must comply with stricter national provisions protecting general interests of the host member state, irrespective of whether they serve consumers or professionals as policyholders.
Applicable Rules of Private International Law
Concerning private international law, the author analyses the intermediaries’ relationships with customers and insurers. A comparative legal analysis reveals that these relationships are based on contract in some member states and on tort in others. Therefore, it is even unclear whether the Rome I or the Rome II Regulation has to be applied. The author calls for an autonomous interpretation of the regulations’ scope of application, which also solves the problem of concurring claims. He suggests that the Rome I Regulation must be applied irrespective of whether the intermediary is an agent or a broker.
Rome I Regulation
Applying the Rome I Regulation to the relationship between intermediaries and customers leads to further difficulties. On the one hand, it is unclear whether the conflicts rule for insurance contracts in Article 7 of the Rome I Regulation can be applied to intermediation services. On the other hand, it is also uncertain whether Articles 3, 4 and 6 of the Rome I Regulation are applicable without modification given that the IDD uses different connecting factors with regard to international supervisory law rules. The author argues that certain IDD “flexibility clauses” constitute special conflict-of-law rules in the sense of Article 23 of the Rome I Regulation and therefore partially supersede Articles 3, 4 and 6 of the same Regulation.
With regard to the relationship between intermediaries and insurers, the author analyses whether Article 4(3) of the Rome I Regulation can be used to apply the law governing the insurance contract or the relationship between intermediaries and customers. He stresses that the parties must be aware of the customs they have to comply with and of certain mechanisms protecting insurance agents, which might include mandatory provisions.
This is a complex area, and the author has to be complemented for having taken a broad perspective, which combines international supervisory law and private international law. The study concludes with an assessment of the extent to which the current state of the law promotes cross-border activities of intermediaries. Particular attention is paid to the importance and legal framework of digital insurance intermediaries, which are also dealt with separately in each chapter.