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ST. HELIER, Jersey-Its new status as a U.K. Designated Territory could give Jersey a boost in its efforts to build its offshore insurance sector, an island official says.

The designation, which the United Kingdom granted earlier this month, effectively means that providers of life insurance and pensions registered in Jersey can sell their products in the United Kingdom.

Of the 14 insurance companies and captives operating in Jersey, only one, Scottish Widows' Food & Life Assurance Society, currently would be able to take advantage of the new designation. However, Richard Syvret, director general of the Jersey Financial Services Commission, said he thinks the change will help attract more long-term life and pensions providers to Jersey.

He said having Designated Territory status "will increase the island's competitiveness and its attractiveness to non-U.K. long-term insurers as a base for their international operations."

The designation follows an assessment of Jersey's insurance regulations by the Insurance Directorate of the U.K. Treasury, which concluded that the Insurance Business (Jersey) Law 1996 and the island's other regulatory practices provide adequate protection to policyholders.

Earlier this year, Jersey established a new, independent Financial Services Commission (BI, April 27) as part of its drive to increase its position as an offshore insurance center.

The U.K. government granted Guernsey, another of the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man Designated Territory status in 1988.