August 23, 2021
The United Kingdom (UK) ceased its membership of the European Union (EU) on 1st January 2021.
Since no specific agreement for continuing the cross-border EU ‘Freedom to Provide Services’ in insurance matters has been signed, let’s take a look at the Brexit impacts on life assurance policies for partners and clients. We will make a distinction between UK residents and UK nationals abroad, the so-called UK expatriates.
The OneLife Company SA (“OneLife”), as an EU life assurance company based in Luxembourg, no longer benefits from the EU LPS regime into the UK and therefore falls now under the UK “contractual run-off” regime.
Implications on Clients’ contracts?
Concerning UK residents, this means that all in force OneLife contracts as of 31 December 2020 remain unchanged after 1st January 2021. However, new applications from UK residents and their advisors are no longer permitted.
For UK nationals abroad (or UK residents contemplating a move abroad), nothing changes though. They can still benefit from the advantages of a Luxembourg life assurance contract, as it is after all an excellent wealth and tax planning instrument widely recognised in Europe and beyond as a tool to hold and transfer family wealth. This is, if compared to other structures like Trusts, Foundations or Investment Companies, a significant advantage as clients who opt for these solutions can easily obtain proper advice about the treatment of such investment vehicles in the jurisdiction where they are currently resident or the one in which they intend to reside after relocation:
- Portability: At OneLife, we can accompany our advisors and their clients in realising their relocation projects in the best way possible. Life assurance is after all an ideal, fully portable solution which can be tailor-made to individual situations.
- Tax planning: In comparison with a traditional portfolio a life assurance is as a long-term investment in almost all jurisdictions more beneficial in terms of applying taxes.
- Inheritance planning: Life assurance is obviously the ideal tool with its fully personalised beneficiary clause and highly flexible structure.
About the policyholder assets protection?
Without the EU Freedom to Provide Services, OneLife is no longer subject to the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Both UK resident policyholders and UK nationals living abroad, still benefit from the highly protective Luxembourg protective framework with:
- The Triangle of Security ensuring full segregation of the policyholder’s assets from the custodian bank’s own funds,
- The Super Privilege, which means that the policyholder is the first creditor in case of insolvency of the life assurance company, and
- No seizure of the assets by any third party or creditor is possible, as the rights to surrender or pledge a policy lie exclusively with the policyholder.
How are the investments underlying life assurance policies affected?
Following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 1st January 2021, the admissibility of investments registered in the United Kingdom has changed.
Direct investments in external UK funds must be treated now as investments of a country in OECD Zone A outside the EEA. Furthermore, UK dependent territories are no longer territories dependent on an EEA country. Nevertheless, a UK based fund can still represent a maximum of 25% of the policy portfolio, which still leaves a great amount of opportunity to incorporate UCITs funds.
Alternatively, clients could opt for a dedicated fund with a discretionary management, or in Portugal or France even for a Specialised Insurance Fund where the Policyholder may have a more active involvement in the decision-making process. In that case, the investment possibilities applicable to such Policy Fund remain large and the rules greatly depend on the category of the client, triggered by premium size and net investable wealth.
Additional information may be found in the Information Note 20/11 on the impact of Brexit on application of LC 15/3, published by the Commissariat aux Assurances.
Changes to the policyholder’s insurance intermediary, custodian bank or asset manager?
Appointed UK asset managers, intermediaries and custodian banks remain the same following Brexit. However, for other non-UK intermediaries, it remains their own obligation to take the necessary steps with the UK authorities to ensure that they are eligible to continue to service UK clients.
For any further question about Brexit and its implications, please contact your advisor or the OneLife Customer Service Team via: firstname.lastname@example.org.