General Insurance Article - EIOPA reviews industry training standards for intermediaries


 The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) has published a Report on Industry Training Standards applied by national competent authorities. The Report is part of EIOPA’s activities in the area of consumer protection and is related to the task of developing training standards for the industry as required by the Regulation establishing EIOPA.

 The Report summarizes the responses by national competent authorities (NCAs) during a mapping exercise carried out by EIOPA Members in March-September 2012. The report looks at different requirements as regards knowledge and ability for insurance intermediaries, laid down by NCAs.

 The Report concludes that knowledge and ability requirements are generally a combination of academic and professional experience, but, in some countries academic qualifications can be waived if professional experience is long enough. In many Members States, the requirements for knowledge and ability are more stringent for insurance brokers than for insurance agents.

 The Report indicates that Member States have considerably different approaches towards the regular update of knowledge and ability requirements: in some Member States, there are no formal requirements at all; other jurisdictions request a minimum number of hours of continuous professional development courses per year and some countries require the passing of an updating exam.

 There is a limited experience amongst NCAs with receiving applications for mutual recognition of knowledge and ability requirements. Instead, the NCAs prefer to rely on existing Union legislation on professional qualifications for dealing with applications for mutual recognition.

 According to the Report, national sanctions for failure to possess adequate knowledge and ability vary from a refusal to register the intermediary to a withdrawal of the licence/authorisation. Some Member States have stricter sanctions such as suspensions/disqualifications, administrative fines or even imprisonment.

 The areas targeted in this report are also broadly in line with the areas which EIOPA currently expects the Commission to request EIOPA to work on in the future in terms of preparing delegated acts on professional requirements and guidelines on sanctions under the proposal for a recast version of the Insurance Mediation Directive(IMD2).

 As a follow-up to this report, it is envisaged that EIOPA will work on a Report on best supervisory practices applicable to industry training standards, with a view to publishing the report for public consultation in 2013. This Report on best practices may in turn be used to feed into work envisaged by the European Commission on delegated acts on professional requirements and guidelines on sanctions under IMD2 later.

 Gabriel Bernardino, chairman of EIOPA, said “Ensuring distributors of insurance products have adequate knowledge and ability from the outset, understand the products they are selling to consumers, and update their knowledge and ability on a regular basis, is crucial to enhancing consumer protection. This is particularly important given the increasing complexity of product offerings. This report clearly shows a very wide diversity of national rules in place, arising out of the national implementation of the current Insurance Mediation Directive (IMD1). This publication provides us with a suitable evidence base for further work on enhancing the level of supervisory convergence in this area. It is also a very useful starting point for any follow-up work on IMD2”.
  

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