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If Britain leaves the EU, what will insurers do?

If Britain leaves the EU, what will insurers do?

If Britain leaves the EU, what will insurers do? The insurance industry has made its position on today’s EU referendum abundantly clear, with organisations like the British Insurance Brokers’ Association and the Association of British Insurers stating it would be beneficial for the industry for the UK to remain in the EU.

It’s not just the associations that have made their stance clear. Speaking to Insurance Business UK last week, Angus Eaton, managing director of commercial general insurance at Aviva, shared his organisation’s opinion.

Aviva’s position is, and we’ve been public, our corporate view is that we should remain,” he said. “Our chief executive and our chairman have been very transparent around that. Clearly, as an employer, it’s our view that it’s important that everybody votes, but it’s their own decision.”
Also speaking to Insurance Business UK, CEO of Neon Martin Reith said he is in favour of remaining.

“I’m an insurance guy, and I can see that a Brexit will cause considerable disruption to the insurance market here, and so my view very much is as an industry, we’re better off remaining,” he said.

But if the vote is for a ‘leave’, then what will the UK insurance industry look like in the morning?
At least immediately, not much will change. All of the biggest concerns raised by the ‘remain’ camp will take several years to come into effect while the UK negotiates it’s exit. While big insurers undoubtedly have some preliminary plans in place, details need to be finalised before anything tangibly changes.  

Speaking with Insurance Business UK, Stephen Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, said in terms of concerns for their customers, their pension savers have the biggest chance of being immediately affected.

“If the vote is to leave, the immediate consequence for pension savers will be if they’re invested in the stock market, if they’re in an undefined pension contribution scheme,” Cameron said.
“Whatever happens with the market will have a direct impact on the funds that they have.”

While either result will impact stocks, it’s only people who are planning to take out money in the immediate future that should reassess their situation.

“If, for example, the markets fall and the value of pensions have fallen, you might want to seek advice and check to see if that’s the right thing to do,” Cameron said.

The following period of negotiations, which will take at least two years, will be poured over by regulators and the legal profession as details slowly emerge.

“What will happen is we, and other providers, will take a close interest in all developments of that nature and how that will impact on our customers, and we’ll make the necessary adjustments as and when they do finalise,” said Cameron. “We’ll let our customers know of any direct implications for them.”

While the only immediate concern will be how the stock market behaves, an end to some of the uncertainty might prompt business to make some calls it has been putting off.

“I imagine that, generally speaking, individuals, employers and even the government may be deferring decisions about investment, about recruitment, about finalising policies,” Cameron said.
“If there is a vote to remain, maybe people will return to decisions they were deferring and we might see things moving forward.”

It seems the only thing the insurance industry can be certain of in the case of a leave vote, is uncertainty.

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