The Central Bank has recently published updated guidelines on completing and submitting Life Assurance, Non-Life Insurance and Reinsurance Authorisation applications (the “Guidelines”), the key points of which are set out below.

Efficient and manageable process

In order to obtain authorisation as an insurance or reinsurance undertaking in Ireland, an undertaking must make an application to the Central Bank, who must be satisfied that the applicant complies with the appropriate Insurance Acts and legislation.  The Guidelines set out that the Central Bank aims to make the application process efficient and manageable, however, they stress that the process is not a one-step mechanism. The application process is an iterative process involving contact and consultation with personnel from the Central Bank prior to and after an application is formally submitted. 

Pre-assessment

The Guidelines set out that in advance of contacting the Central Bank, an undertaking should first assess what type of licence its business model requires, whether it is capable of complying with the Central Bank’s requirements for authorisation and whether it will be capable of meeting the regulatory requirements on an ongoing basis once authorised.  Only on satisfactorily completing this assessment is an undertaking then advised to contact the General Insurance Authorisation Team of the Central Bank to arrange a preliminary meeting.

Complete the checklist

According to the Guidelines, after the preliminary meeting has been held, an undertaking should then submit the information required under the relevant Central Bank checklist in support of its application. Undertakings are advised to expand on the information required by the checklist, where necessary. An application should include all locations, activities (eg, branches and products) that are expected to feature during the first three years of business.  Additionally, an undertaking must provide a full list of regulated entities within its group so that the Central Bank can make appropriate enquiries from overseas supervisory authorities where necessary.

Fully complete application

The Guidelines provide that the Central Bank will only begin reviewing an application when it receives a complete application and it will inform an undertaking of any outstanding information / documentation it requires for completeness. If an applicant makes material changes to its application, it should submit a revised application incorporating all changes.  The Central Bank will then review the quality of the complete application and will issue comments advising the undertaking of any further information / documentation required on any aspect of the proposal.

Authorisation in principle

When an application has been fully examined, reviewed and approved by the Central Bank, an undertaking will receive an “authorisation in principle”. This authorisation in principle does not, in any circumstances, permit the undertaking to write any business but provides the undertaking with time to, among other things, introduce capital, appoint directors and finalise the company’s name and objects. A formal physical certificate of authorisation will be granted when all pre-licensing requirements are met.  The newly authorised entity then has 21 days to agree to its conditions of authorisation. 

Proposed three month turn-around

The Guidelines state that the expected timeline for the authorisation process is three months from receipt of a complete application. However, timing will vary depending on factors such as the quality and complexity of the proposal, the response time of the undertaking or third parties, the quality of responses and any changes during the authorisation process.  There is no fee for an application for authorisation, however, authorised firms are subject ongoing prudential and consumer levies.