Directive 2002/92/EC on insurance mediation has been replaced by the new Directive (EU) 2016/97 on insurance distribution (IDD, Insurance Distribution Directive). It aims to further improve customer protection and to structure the insurance distribution market as a partial measure to restore the confidence of customers in the financial sector which had suffered in the wake of the financial crisis.
The amendment to the Trade Act (GewO) of Federal Law Gazette I No. 112/2018), together with new rules of conduct governing the business and its pursuit, are intended to implement in Austrian law Directive (EU) 2016/97 on insurance distribution regarding commercial insurance mediation.
This has produced several new rules for insurance intermediaries:
- 15 hours of annual further training;
- clarity regarding status: acting either as an insurance broker or as an insurance agent, clearly informing the customer of the insurance intermediary’s status;
- unlimited obligation to provide additional security for professional liability insurance by insurance brokers and insurance agents; i.e. the intermediary’s liability insurer is liable for any loss caused by the intermediary during the term of his/her liability insurance, even if the loss should be discovered only later due to a change of insurer;
- rules regarding pay: the cost of mediation must be stated for insurance investment products, broken down in detail if so requested by the customer;
- rules for insurers and their distribution activities (Section 6 (4) Insurance Supervision Act VAG).
Information on the Insurance Distribution Directive is also provided by EIOPA (European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority).
GISA search: register of insurance intermediaries
Information on the activities of persons licensed to act as insurance intermediaries may also be obtained from the Gewerbeinformationssystem Austria (Austrian Business Licence Information System, GISA):
Licensing for insurance intermediaries
In Austria, insurance intermediaries require a business licence.
They may operate only as insurance brokers or as insurance agents. Under Section 137 (2) of the Trade Act (GewO) of 1994, a person operating as an insurance intermediary is known as “Versicherungsvermittler”.
Applicable business licences are:
- under Section 94 (75) of the Trade Act: commercial investment advisory services – insurance mediation within the scope of life and accident insurance;
- under section 94 (76) of the Trade Act: insurance mediation (insurance agent, insurance broker and adviser in insurance matters); or
- Section 94 (76) in combination with Section 32 (6) of the Trade Act: sideline as insurance intermediary.
Registration of a business
The business needs to be registered with the applicable trade licensing authority (see Gewerbeanmeldung, german). Banks are permitted to obtain a licence, but need to file their application with the FMA
Insurance intermediaries have the following obligations:
- entry in the Register of Insurance Intermediaries,
- professional liability insurance,
- requisite competence, good repute, no history of bankruptcy (including staff members),
- annual further training,
- information obligations,
- safety of customer moneys.
Exceptions to these obligations are granted only for totally subordinate insurance mediation activities, such as luggage insurance when booking a two-week trip at a premium of less than € 200.
- Office for Complaints concerning insurance intermediaries
- Provisions of Austrian law governing insurance intermediaries
- Conditions for performing insurance mediation in other Member States
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