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Association of British Insurers warns on no-deal Brexit hit


(Reuters) — The Association of British Insurers warned on Monday that if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal it could cause long-lasting damage to the U.K. insurance industry.

A no-deal Brexit could result in British insurers having to hold more capital than they need, damaging competitiveness, reducing investment in the economy and seeing people get less from their pension, Huw Evans, Director General of the ABI, said in a statement ahead of the trade body’s annual dinner in London.

“Any future arrangement with the EU that required the U.K. to comply with rules it had no say over could be weaponized by those in the EU that want to damage the U.K.,” Mr. Evans warned.

“It would be naive to think that over the course of the next few decades, EU rules will do anything other than reflect the interests of its members, not its former members, seeking to draw capital, talent and market infrastructure into the EU27,” he said.

The U.K. is the largest insurance market in Europe, the fourth-largest in the world and employs over 300,000 people in Britain.

Evans said World Trade Organization rules, which would replace those from the trading bloc in the event of a no-deal Brexit, do not guarantee market access for the services that make up four-fifths of the U.K. economy.

“This matters because the EU is — by a very long distance — the largest export market for the U.K. insurance and long-term savings industry,” he added.

Britain’s government is considering different options, including possibly delaying Brexit, if parliament fails to approve Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal by March 12.

Evans said Britain’s insurers have transferred about 29 million insurance contracts and set up about 40 new hubs in the EU to minimize Brexit disruption to customers.

Several insurers are transferring policies of EU-based customers to new hubs in the bloc, though Lloyd’s of London won’t complete the transfer of business to its new Brussels subsidiary before March 29.

“As a last resort, if the only alternative to no deal is some form of short delay to Brexit, then delay we should,” he added.





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