Regulation bias means UK insurers suffer, says ABI

Eurocrats should spend more time enforcing Directives than dreaming up new legislation, according to the ABI.

At an ABI-organised lobby on Tuesday, trade body officials argued that UK insurance companies are being discriminated against, because other EU countries are failing to implement Directives.

ABI deputy director general Stephen Sklaroff said: "The UK tends towards gold-plated regulation, where the rest of Europe doesn't always comply in the same way."

For instance, he added: "In Denmark it is impossible to buy insurance that is not all bundled together.

"The Italian government is closely involved in price setting in the motor insurance market."

Experts argue that this will make market entry risky.

Sklaroff explained that the EU is considering a second financial services action plan. He said that, instead of putting resources into the plan and new regulation that would accompany it, eurocrats should divert the resources to enforcement.

The ABI also warned eurocrats that it is not just financial services legislation that needs to be addressed. Sklaroff said tax laws and many other laws that impact on insurance needed to be looked at.

To support the lobby, the ABI has carried out a survey of 81 UK chief executives in the life and general insurance industries.

The largest issue for chief executives of general insurance companies is solvency. Over 60% of chief executives said the EU should look at new common solvency rules.

Despite concerns about the level of enforcement across EU countries, the survey revealed that UK chief executives are against an EU-wide insurance regulator. Almost 60% of chief executives were against a single regulator for prudential supervision or conduct of business rules.

The survey also revealed Germany is the top target for general insurance providers. Just under 40% of see Germany as the most attractive market in the EU outside of the UK.

Sklaroff said the survey did not distinguish between direct selling to the market or cross-border selling.