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12 May 2016

Commercial Risk Europe: London insurers express grave concerns for Brexit

With just over a month to go before the UK’s referendum on EU membership, London market insurers have expressed their concerns for Brexit.

Through the London-based trade body, the International Underwriting Association (IUA), insurers have said that the UK insurance industry would be disadvantaged by a vote to leave. They are also sceptical over the benefits of leaving the EU as claimed by the vote to leave campaign.

 The IUA said that membership of the European Union provides insurers with substantial benefits and London Market companies would be significantly damaged if they were lost.

Dave Matcham, chief executive of the IUA, said: “The feedback we have received from our members clearly shows that the benefits of EU membership are highly valued and the possibility of these advantages disappearing is of grave concern.”

“Passporting rights within the single market are particularly important, ensuring that firms are not obliged to maintain expensive capital holdings in each of the EU member states in which they operate.”

In addition, companies have highlighted the consequence of free movement of capital for the purposes of investment or payment, a common regulatory framework, absence of trade tariffs within the EU and freedom of labour movement, said Mr Matcham.

Much like views expressed by Lloyd’s of London, IUA members are concerned that, should the UK leave, they would have a continuing obligation to comply with EU regulations, but little power to influence them. This could result in a loss of competitiveness in European markets, the IUA said.

Mr Matcham also noted scepticism among insurers about the potential benefits of a Brexit, with companies cautious about the likelihood of such a scenario benefiting them through lower taxes and a reduced regulatory and compliance burden.

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