Gibraltar: The European Insurance Centre

Last Updated: 10 August 1998
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CONTENTS:




"PROFIT FROM OUR POSITION"



Gibraltar is a leading insurance domicile because it is the ONLY location that offers ALL of the following:

GATEWAY TO EUROPE

Gibraltar licensed insurers are able to insure risks directly or set up a branch in EEA states

UK STANDARDS OF REGULATION

Gibraltar has implemented all the EEA Directives relating to insurance business. Its regulations and levels of supervision match UK standards, making Gibraltar probably the best regulated offshore centre for insurance business.

NIL/FLEXIBLE TAX REGIME

Gibraltar insurance companies may choose between "exempt company" status (fixed annual tax of £225) and "qualifying company" status (0% to 35%).

There are also tax advantages for certain expatriate specialists working in the insurance sector in Gibraltar.

NO VALUE ADDED TAX

Gibraltar is exempt from the EEA requirement to levy VAT, enabling a service operation, whose charges would normally be chargeable to VAT in another territory, to gain a competitive advantage in price.

Infrastructure - High Quality, Low Cost And Flexible

  • UK educated and qualified workforce
  • salary and rental costs lower than any other European offshore centre
  • no job quotas or work permit restrictions.

WHO IS COMING TO GIBRALTAR?



As well as direct insurance companies, who will be able to take advantage of the single market in insurance, Gibraltar provides an attractive environment for:

  • Captive insurance companies
  • Re-insurance companies
  • International insurers setting up a base from which to access the EEA market
  • Insurance services companies establishing a European offshore cross-boarder base e.g.:

          * international insurance brokers
          * claims managers
          * loss adjusters
          * companies wishing to re-domicile.

RE-DOMICILIATION

Companies already established in another jurisdiction wishing to take advantage of Gibraltar's unique regime for insurance business have the relatively simple option to re-domicile to Gibraltar. In other words, simply "moving" their operations in their entirety to Gibraltar without having to close down their existing operation and set up afresh in Gibraltar.

Once a re-domiciled company obtains its licence and registers in Gibraltar it becomes a Gibraltar company.

Countries from which insurance companies can re-domicile to Gibraltar include:

  • all EEA member states
  • British Dependent Territories (including Bermuda and the Cayman Islands)
  • British Commonwealth countries (including Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man)
  • Switzerland.

FORMATION AND LICENSING - "PROFIT FROM OUR MANAGEMENT"



WHAT DO YOU NEED?

  • a sound business plan (including satisfactory reinsurance arrangements) and adequate financial resources to support it
  • fit and proper people at all levels
  • management with adequate experience of the business which is to be underwritten
  • appropriate systems of control.

HOW TO APPLY?

Applications are made to the Commissioner of Insurance on one of the forms set out in the Insurance Companies (Prescribed Particulars) Regulations, which contains questions as to shareholding structure, controllers of the company, financial resources, business plan and reinsurance arrangements. An application fee of £500 is payable.

SOLVENCY REQUIREMENTS

Every licensed insurer which has its Head Office in Gibraltar must, at all times, maintain free assets to cover a required minimum margin in respect of its entire business. This will be the greater of either the solvency margin as calculated, or the Minimum Guarantee Fund as laid down in the legislation.

In general terms the solvency margin for general business is either 18% of the annual amount of premiums (premium basis) or 26% of the average amount of claims for the previous 3 years (claims basis).

The minimum guarantee fund varies according to the type and class of insurance business for which authorisation is sought. For general business this ranges from 200,000 to 400,000 ECU's.

SHARE CAPITAL

No minimum share capital is specified in the legislation - the level will be dictated by solvency margin requirements.

INVESTMENT

There is no requirement to hold assets in Gibraltar.

There is no requirement for the investment managers to be based in Gibraltar.

MANAGEMENT

Any insurer not wishing to have its own local management presence can avail itself of indigenous insurance company management facilities.

Insurance company management is licensed by the FSC, and is a well-established and growing professional discipline in Gibraltar.

LICENCE FEE

The annual licence fee is £2,000.

APPLICABLE LEGISLATION AND REGULATIONS



The Insurance Companies Ordinance 1987 and supporting Regulations.

Double Taxation Treaties - None.

Supervisory Authority

The Gibraltar Financial Services Commission.

Registration And Incorporation Fee

  • Annual Filing Fee of £26.
  • Application Fee £500.
  • Annual Fee £2000.

Investment Restrictions

Admissibility limits based on UK practice.

Capitalisation

Minimum of £1,000 at incorporation. Minimum Guarantee Fund to be in accordance with EU requirements;

  • Life Business ECU800,000
  • Non-Life ECU200,000 to ECU400,000 according to classes undertaken.

Local Taxes

3 Options available:

  • Nil tax subject to payment of £225 Exempt Company Fee;
  • 0% to 35% for qualifying company;
  • Full local Corporation tax 35%

Local Office Requirements

  • Minimum of one shareholder.
  • Minimum of three directors.

Minimum Solvency Margin

18% of net premium or 26% of average annual claims (after 3 years) multiplied by the ratio of claims net of reinsurance to gross claims (min 50%)

Reporting Requirements

Annual audited accounts to be submitted within six months of the year end together with a copy of the Actuary's Report and statutory.

ESTIMATED COSTS OF ESTABLISHING COMPANY INSURANCE/REINSURANCE



Set-Up/First Year Costs

Legal Costs for incorporation of company
(including tax application)                      £500 - £1,000

Qualifying Company:
tax deposit                                      £1,000
application                                      £250

Exempt Company:
first year tax                                   £225
application fee                                  nil

Stamp Duty on capital
(discretionary maximum £5,000)                   0.5%

Insurance Licence application fee                £500

Insurance licence first year annual fee          £2,000

First year management fees*                      minimum £25,000

Ongoing Annual Costs

Qualifying Company tax                           0% to 35%

Exempt Company annual tax                        £225

Insurance licence annual fee                     £2,000

Annual management fees                           minimum £25,000

5 Annual Directors' fees (if required)           £3,000 - £7,000

THE REGULATION OF INSURANCE BUSINESS - "PROFIT FROM OUR WISDOM"



INSURANCE LEGISLATION

All Community law relating to insurance is in place in Gibraltar. The Gibraltar Government has passed into its laws the Life and Non-Life Insurance Directives and ancillary legislation.

The conduct of insurance business in Gibraltar is regulated by the Insurance Companies Ordinance 1987 and its subsidiary legislation. The framework it lays down implements the Life and Non-Life Insurance Directives and fully matches UK standards in EEA non-life and life insurance directives.

The 1989 Financial Services Ordinance allows for regulation of "investment business" and "controlled activities" by the Financial Services Commission, which includes insurance company managers and insurance brokers.

REGULATORY APPROACH

Greater emphasis is placed on overall financial supervision and fitness matters.

The regulatory regime governing insurance business in Gibraltar concentrates mainly on ensuring that insurance companies:

  • Are licenced to carry on an insurance business
  • Have fit and proper controllers, directors and managers
  • Are soundly and prudently run, with appropriate systems
  • Have sufficient resources to cover their liabilities to policy-holders, including a margin of solvency
  • Provide annual financial information to the regulator
  • Are sufficiently open in the information they provide publicly to enable policyholders, with help from their financial advisers, to form a reliable view of their financial strength, and to know who controls the company
  • Maintain a prudent spread of appropriate investments.

THE FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMISSION (FSC)

The Financial Services Commission is a statutory body corporate established by the Financial Services Commission Ordinance 1989. It consists of the Commissioner, as Chairman and seven other persons, four of whom shall have relevant experience in the United Kingdom and three of whom shall have relevant experience in Gibraltar. The Commissioner is appointed by the Governor, acting with the approval of the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, and the other members are appointed by the Governor, acting with the approval of the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, after consulting with the Commissioner.

As mentioned above the Financial Services Commission ("FSC") is the body in Gibraltar that regulates the establishment and ongoing activities of insurance companies, and indeed all organisations within the Gibraltar finance sector. This includes insurance company managers, as well as non-insurance related activities such as banking, investment advisors and company managers, to name but three.

The FSC is presided over by the Commissioner, John Millner, who also carries the title Commissioner of Insurance and has the ultimate responsibility for authorising and supervising insurance companies in Gibraltar, and for applying any discretionary powers provided in the legislation.

The Insurance Supervisor, Jim Costin, has day-to-day responsibility for licensing, supervision and regulation of insurance companies, and provides support to the Commissioner on these matters, together with those relating to the licensing and supervision of insurance company managers.

The Assistant Insurance Supervisor, Norman Ritchie, has been responsible for the Financial Services Commission's detailed input into the legislation giving effect to the insurance directives. He also has special responsibility for the scrutiny of Insurer's accounts and returns.


OFFICIAL CONTACT AND ADDRESS

Financial Services Commission
PO Box 940
Gibraltar

Tel No:  + 350 40283
Fax No:  + 350 40282
Web Site:  Click Contact Link 

CONTACT

Anthony Fisher

Finance Centre Development Director
Department of Trade & Industry
Government of Gibraltar
Suite 771, Europort
Gibraltar

Tel No: + 350 50011
Fax No: + 350 47677
E-mail:  Click Contact Link 

Website:  Click Contact Link 

You may also wish to read through related material on business and finance in Gibraltar provided by the Gibraltar Finance Centre.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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