Realities of Brexit on Maltese Captives
1st March 2021
Companies licensed in Malta can write business in any other member state, and the country has already attracted several Fortune 100 companies to set up insurance companies in Malta, among them multinationals such as BMW, Peugeot, Citroen, Nissan, Munich Re, and Vodafone.
EU passporting rights and competitive operating costs are key attractions of locating in Malta. The country also championed the introduction of innovative structures such as Protected and Incorporated Cell Companies. Both structures allow firms to write risks through cells within a core company and provide businesses with a cost-effective and a ring-fencing mechanism as an alternative to setting up a stand-alone insurance company. The cell model is also applicable to insurance managers and brokers.
Several insurance and reinsurance companies, intermediaries and cells are today registered in Malta, with the large majority being international players and only a handful of companies being active in the local market. International insurance business now accounts for a substantial part of the total gross written premiums. With new legislation on reinsurance special purpose vehicles, Malta has also positioned itself to tap new markets. The island has recognised the growing importance of insurance linked securities and catastrophe bonds, as well as the convergence of reinsurance and capital markets.
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Since the early 1990s Malta has established itself as a renowned and stable financial services sector. The insurance industry was at the forefront of this development, with the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) working in consultation with the local market to create an innovative jurisdiction aimed at encouraging the growth of insurance and reinsurance business, including captive insurance companies passporting their services throughout the European Union.
The insurance companies in Malta boast a mature domestic market with a compliment of life and non-life insurers and reinsurers as well as a burgeoning international sector. Despite the financial turmoil facing a majority of the world’s economies, confidence on the island remains strong. Local regulatory demand for transparency and compliance coupled with the intrinsic right of every insurer and reinsurer to passport its business throughout the EU indicates that the growth of the insurance sector is likely to continue.
Malta is the only full European member state to offer Protected Cell Company (PCC) legislation, allowing companies to establish a cell within a PCC and write risk through that cell. The PCC set-up allows the start-up and ongoing regulatory burden of an insurance company to be spread throughout the owners of the various cells and the core of the PCC without putting any individual cell owners’ assets at risk from liabilities of the others. Cells are particularly attractive to small to medium-sized corporate groups wishing to establish their own insurance vehicle. The PCC set-up is also attractive for insurance companies to be able to segregate difference operations/portfolios and/or to have the operations as a cell vehicle acting as an alternative source of income.
As a full member of the European Union, insurance businesses that incorporate in Malta can benefit from harmonised EU legislation and regulation with the benefit of an EU wide insurance licence which gives them the ability to passport business into other member states. This is also of particular advantage to those establishing an insurance business in Malta whose core business remains in another European jurisdiction.
The international market, with a predominant focus in the European Union has flourished substantially since Malta’s EU accession in 2004, with insurance companies in Malta providing services across 28 EU countries.
The MFSA through its stable and consistent regulatory approach has ensured the growth of the insurance industry on the island. Throughout the licensing process of a potential insurance business, the MFSA encourages regular consultation sessions to ensure that both the interests of the business and compliance with all regulatory standards are met. The Regulator is generally described as being open to the needs of insurance businesses in Malta but also firm in their approach to the regulation of the insurance industry.
Malta has a good number of licensed insurance management companies, ranging from well-known international names to more boutique establishments. These insurance managers have the knowledge and experience to assist those who are new to the insurance market and can advise/assist with the formation of as well as the day-to-day operations of an insurance business. Moreover, insurance managers participate in the Malta Insurance Management Association, an association aimed at ensuring the highest levels of training and conduct among its members.
Malta offers an OECD and EU-approved fiscal framework and has concluded over 70 double taxation treaties with the most global and developed economies in the world.
Further information on the tax regime in Malta can be found here: https://cfr.gov.mt/en/Pages/Home.aspx
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The EU passporting regime allows insurance companies to establish themselves in any member state and offer cross-border services into any other EU country, provided they follow a simple notification procedure and observe local general good provisions.
As an established finance centre, Malta has an excellent pool of human resources, with many professionals having insurance-specific knowledge and qualifications.
Although an island at the centre of the Mediterranean, Malta has overcome its physical limitations by establishing one of the most advanced telecommunications networks in Europe with fast internet widely available.
Thanks to Malta’s strategic location, it offers access to Europe and the emerging markets of North Africa and the Middle East.
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