Gibraltar is home to approximately 50 insurers which operate under the supervision of the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (GFSC).
The Gibraltar insurance industry also comprises a wide range of insurance intermediaries carrying out insurance distribution, as well as a growing number of Managing General Agents (MGAs).
The jurisdiction is well served by Gibraltar’s highly experienced and skilled insurance managers, the majority of which are owned by international insurance groups with global reach. Insurance managers provide managerial, back-office and operational functions to many of Gibraltar’s insurance firms, whether insurers, MGAs or intermediaries.
Gibraltar is also quickly developing into a leading InsurTech hub with a number of these technology driven companies having already received their GFSC permissions, including the first insurtechs to establish their own insurance companies to underwrite UK business. Gibraltar is uniquely positioned and attractive for MGAs and insurtechs due to its vibrant insurance and FinTech communities.
Under Gibraltar’s Protected Cell Companies legislation, an insurance company may also be established as a protected cell company (PCC). A PCC may set up “cells”, the assets and liabilities of which are segregated from the assets of the PCC itself, also known as the “core”, as well as from other cells of the PCC.
The Insurance team at ISOLAS have extensive expertise on corporate, licensing and regulatory matters and are advisers to insurance companies, insurtechs, MGAs, insurance managers and intermediaries. The team is also active in the Mergers & Acquisitions space, where it advises on the sale and purchase of insurance firms and groups, including in the undertaking of legal due diligence and on the GFSC ‘change of control’ process.
Our lawyers are regularly instructed on insurance portfolio transfers of general insurance business of Gibraltar insurers. We also advised on the first portfolio transfer of long-term insurance business undertaken by a Gibraltar insurance protected cell company (PCC) to be sanctioned by the Supreme Court of Gibraltar. In addition, we have acted on the redomiciliation/migration of insurance companies to and from Gibraltar, including as part of Brexit contingency measures and general restructuring projects.
The ISOLAS Insurance team are regular advisors in relation to insurance ‘passporting’ matters regarding UK firms seeking to undertake business in Gibraltar and in relation to Gibraltar insurance entities’ access to the UK market. We also act in respect of insurance company insolvencies, liquidations and winding-up proceedings of Gibraltar authorised insurance companies.
Our team has also been involved in the development of Gibraltar insurance legislation, including as a result of our involvement in the implementation of sector-specific insurance regulations for the Legislative Reform Programme (LRP) – which comprised the single largest review and reform of Gibraltar’s financial services legislation.
ISOLAS have also contributed to a number of insurance publications, including:
- The Gibraltar Chapter of Thomson Reuter’s ‘Comparative Overview of Insurance and Reinsurance Law and Regulation’
- Law Business Research’s Gibraltar Chapter for ‘The Insurance and Reinsurance Review’.
- The ‘Gibraltar Insurance Guide’, part of Thomson Reuters Country Guides Series.
Gibraltar/UK Market Access
A key component of Gibraltar’s attraction as an insurance hub is its unique ability to access the United Kingdom market on a cross-border services or branch basis. As is widely reported, it is estimated that in the region of 25% of all UK based motor insurance premiums are underwritten by Gibraltar insurers. Gibraltar’s special relationship with the UK means that a Gibraltar insurer or intermediary is able to sell its services and products to UK consumers on the basis of their GFSC permissions.
UK insurance firms are likewise in a position to offer their own services and products within Gibraltar, as are certain EEA insurers (subject to meeting specified conditions under Gibraltar law). Consumers in both Gibraltar and the UK are therefore the primary beneficiaries of enhanced competition and choice. These strong links will be further cemented under the Gibraltar Authorisation Regime (GAR), which will enable Gibraltar-based financial services firms to continue to access the UK market on the basis of high shared standards and close regulatory co-operation.
Insurance groups and their principals are also attracted by the jurisdiction’s tax rules, which include competitive rates of both personal and corporate taxation. Most types of investment or interest income (other than inter-company interest) are not taxable. There is no capital gains tax in Gibraltar, nor is there any withholding tax on interest or the payment of dividends. Stamp duty is payable at a fixed amount of £10 GBP on share or loan capital transactions. Gibraltar also has a Double Taxation Treaty with the UK. The main purpose of the Treaty is to eliminate double taxation between residents in Gibraltar and/or the UK and also recognising Gibraltar as a separate tax region by determining the tax residence of individuals or companies under certain ‘tests’.
Applications to Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (GFSC)
Due to its relatively small size, Gibraltar is able to offer greater speed-to-market than most jurisdictions, allowing potential new market entrants to be established and operational in a matter of months. This is possible as a result of the GFSC’s in-depth knowledge of the insurance industry, which enables the regulator to process applications and approvals quickly, yet robustly.
The GFSC is also well regarded for its responsiveness and capacity to host face to face and/or video meetings at short-notice. This ensures a smooth application process for applicants, as well as a collaborative and supportive supervisory approach with firms once in receipt of their GFSC permission(s). Similarly, change of control applications are processed swiftly by the GFSC Authorisations Team, which understand the commercial sensitivities involved in acquisitions and restructuring.
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