Solving Solvency II

Steven Francis, a partner in the financial services group at Baker & McKenzie LLP, takes us through first set of Solvency II Guidelines issued by the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) which are currently out for consultation.

National Competent Authorities are provided with guidance on what insurance or reinsurance undertakings they should consider in order to approve the use of an internal model for the calculation of the Solvency capital requirement, under new guidelines being consulted on by EIOPA. EIOPA is inviting comments on the first set of guidelines and their impact assessment for Solvency II. The proposed guidelines have been developed based on European Parliament and Council Directive 2009/138/EC (known as Solvency II) and the current Commission Delegated Acts containing the draft implementing measures. Comments on the proposals should be received by 29 August 2014.

How are the guidelines being consulted on?

The guidelines are to be found on EIOPA’s website. There is a comments template that should be used. A point to note is that firms commenting should make it clear whether they wish the comments to be confidential. General comments can also be provided.

What does the consultation paper on pillar 1 guidelines cover?

The consultation on pillar 1 requirements covers:

  • technical provisions
  • own funds, including:
    • ancillary own funds
    • classification of own funds
    • ring-fenced funds
    • related undertakings, and
  • solvency capital requirements including:
    • catastrophe risk
    • life underwriting risk
    • market risk
    • basis risk
    • the look-through approach
    • undertaking specific parameters
    • the loss absorbing capacity of technical provisions
    • deferred tax and group solvency calculation

What does the consultation paper on internal models guidelines cover?

The internal models guidelines aim to provide guidance on the steps supervisory authorities and (re-)insurance undertakings should consider to enable supervisory authorities to approve the use of an internal model for the calculation of Solvency II capital requirements. The guidelines also aim to create a uniform approach in how supervisory authorities assess and approve internal models.

What does the consultation paper on the proposal for guidelines on system of governance and own risks and solvency assessment cover?

The guidelines are concerned with achieving the sound and prudent management of (re-)insurance undertakings without unduly restricting them, provided they always establish an appropriate segregation of duties. The guidelines cover:

  • the responsibilities of the board
  • organisational structure
  • the allocation and segregation of duties
  • remuneration
  • the qualities and qualifications required of senior individuals in (re-)insurance undertakings
  • the outsourcing of key functions

As well as their being 77 key guidelines, there is important explanatory text.

What does the consultation paper on supervisory review process (SRP) guidelines cover?

The SRP guidelines seek to outline how a risk-based, prospective and proportionate approach to supervision of (re-)insurance undertakings is to be achieved under Solvency II. The aim is to achieve some degree of uniformity of approach while still allowing flexibility for national regulators to take action and make decisions on a case-by-case basis where appropriate.

What does the consultation paper on equivalence guidelines cover?

These guidelines are addressed to supervisory authorities. Equivalency is the crucial issue of how third countries not in the European Economic Area (EEA) are to be treated for Solvency II purposes. Equivalence has ramifications for reinsurance placed outside the EEA and for groups of insurance undertakings where the parent of an EEA group is outside the EEA or where a group with insurance undertakings in third countries has its parent in the EEA. The aim of the guidelines is to ensure that that group supervisors follow a consistent approach which is based on the equivalence criteria set out in the draft implementing measures of Solvency II, and so mitigate any risk that different supervisors will come to different views when assessing the same third country regulatory regime.

Steven Francis advises firms on all aspects of financial services regulation. His clients include banks, insurers and investment management firms, as well as non-mainstream financial services businesses who are within the regulated perimeter, such as those providing payments, consumer credit or e-money services.

Interviewed by Kate Beaumont.

The views expressed by our Legal Analysis interviewees are not necessarily those of the proprietor.

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