Axis boss backs Bermuda on Solvency II
Bermuda is on track to get a seal of approval from the European Union, a top insurance figure said yesterday.
Albert Benchimol, the CEO of Axis Capital Holdings, said Bermuda had earned the right to full equivalency with the EU under its Solvency II regulations, designed to ensure the financial health of major companies.
Mr Benchimol said: “I think a lot of people in Europe who think that because we don’t have corporate tax in Bermuda, we are a tax haven — that’s not true.
“Bermuda is an established jurisdiction with a long history and good banking laws. When they look at it, Bermuda will fully deserve equivalency.
“When people sit down and look at the facts they will see Bermuda is a fantastic jurisdiction.”
Mr Benchimol was a guest speaker on a panel discussion about the future of reinsurance during the final day of the Insurance Day Bermuda Summit, which was held at the Hamilton Princess.
He told the meeting: “My view is Bermuda will do everything which is required to be Solvency II compliant.
“I believe it’s one of the best jurisdictions in the world — the question is whether ignorance or prejudice will delay it.”
Bermuda was last week awarded provisional equivalence with tough new rules on business solvency by the European Commission.
The Island joined Australia, Brazil, Canada and the US in a delegated decision by the Commission under the Solvency II regulations, although captives are not included in the recommendation.
The decision will now be reviewed by the European Parliament and the European Council. Bermuda Monetary Authority CEO Jeremy Cos said he hoped Bermuda would be granted full equivalency status later this year or early in 2016.
Delegates at the Insurance Day summit heard that Africa and Asia would provide major avenues for growth in the insurance industry as those markets developed.
Mr Benchimol said: “We don’t have as much growth in the developed markets — we’re all looking for the emerging markets. It’s very clear to me is that the appetite for covering risk is higher than it’s ever been. Put me down as an optimistic supporter of the insurance industry.”
And bringing US public insurance schemes covering natural disasters like flooding — many of which are in debt — into the private sector was touted as another area for expansion.
Mr Benchimol told the meeting that cyber terrorism should be covered by separate policies due to uncertainty over what would be covered.
He added: “I think we have to be reasonably precise about what we mean. It’s not clear in many policies what cyber risk is covered and to what extent.”
And he said: “What we really need is for everybody to buy protection for cyber, then we can afford the coverage.”
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