Hong Kong’s Insurance Authority (IA) will take over the responsibility of regulating all insurance intermediaries in the market from the three self-regulatory organisations (SROs), beginning September 23.
According to a statement by the IA by September 23, it will be in charge of all aspects of regulating intermediaries, such as granting licences, conducting inspections and investigations, and imposing disciplinary sanctions where applicable. It will assume the responsibilities currently held by the Insurance Agents Registration Board, which was established under the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers; the Hong Kong Confederation of Insurance Brokers; and the Professional Insurance Brokers Association.
“This exercise is a monumental phase of development for the insurance industry in Hong Kong,” said Dr Moses Cheng, IA chairman. “We are confident that the new regime will help enhance the professionalism of insurance intermediaries, promote fair and transparent regulation, and instil a robust but flexible approach in fulfilling our statutory function of protecting policyholders.”
In connection to the take-over, the IA has formulated two sets of rules that will take effect on September 23, subject to approval by the Legislative Council. The regulator will publish a suite of codes and guidelines for licensed insurance intermediaries within the next few months. It is also working closely with the industry to implement the Insurance Intermediary System, which features an online portal to facilitate electronic licence applications, the reporting of continuing professional development hours attained, and the updating of personnel particulars.
“We are immensely grateful to industry stakeholders for their advice, support and understanding throughout this challenging project,” said Clement Cheung, IA chief executive. “Looking ahead, we will continue to rely on this partnering spirit in shaping our enforcement strategies and protocols.”
As part of the transition to the new regulator, all insurance intermediaries who are validly registered with the SROs immediately before September 23 will be deemed as licensees for a period of three years. The incumbent chief executives and responsible officers are also eligible for the transitional arrangements.
Additionally, all complaints and non-compliance cases not yet resolved by the SROs as of that date will be followed up in accordance with the rules that would have applied had they not been handed over to the IA. In summary, the new regime does not have any retrospective effect, the IA said.