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GT Alert

Legislation Allows Sale, Service in Florida of Insurance by Foreign Issuers

July 2005

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On May 27, 2005 Florida Governor Jeb Bush signed the International Insurance Center Bill, Florida Statute 624.402. Effective July 1, 2005, this legislation allows for the first time the sale and service in the State of Florida of life insurance and annuities issued by non-U.S. insurance companies to non-U.S. residents. The new law also facilitates the establishment of operations in Florida by non-U.S. insurance companies to service this business.

“Under the new law, foreign insurers are eligible to offer their products to non-US residents without obtaining a Certificate of Authority from the Office of Insurance Regulation...”

Under the new law, foreign insurers are eligible to offer their products to non-US residents without obtaining a Certificate of Authority from the Office of Insurance Regulation (“OIR”), provided certain statutory requirements are met. (Generally, Section 624.401 Fla. Stat. prohibits insurance transactions in Florida unless the insurer holds a Certificate of Authority issued from the State.) The new law signed by Governor Bush specifically exempts foreign based insurers offering life insurance and annuity products to non-residents from the Certificate Requirement provided that such insurer maintains a policy holder surplus of $15 million or more.

The foreign insurer must be currently authorized, and authorized for the previous three years, in its country of domicile to offer the kind of insurance it offers to non-residents of the United States. The OIR may waive the three year requirement if the foreign insurer has operated successfully for at least one year and has capital and surplus of at least $25 million. The foreign insurer must provide OIR with authenticated copies of its current financial statement, in English, with monetary values expressed in US Dollars, based on current exchange rates.

The OIR is authorized by the new law to examine or investigate a foreign insurer in the same manner as OIR would examine or investigate a domestic insurer and to charge the foreign insurer for the cost of the examination or investigation. The OIR may revoke the ability of the foreign insurer to offer policies to non-residents of the United States if the investigation warrants such action.

In addition to the policy surplus monetary requirements, the new law requires that the foreign insurer must provide certain disclosures to each applicant including the following:

  • A copy of its most recent quarterly financial statement;
  • The date the insurer was organized;
  • The rating or non-rating of the company;
  • A statement that the company does not hold a Certificate of Authority from Florida and is not regulated by the OIR; and
  • The identity and address of the regulatory authority exercising oversight of the insurer
  • There must be disclosed on the application and on the policy that the policy is not governed by the laws of Florida and there needs to be a statement that the Florida Life and Health Guarantee Association does not cover such policies

Importantly, the new law does not exempt a foreign insurer from agent licensure requirements in Florida, and it must use agents licensed to sell such policies. In addition, the foreign insurer is also subject to the Florida Unfair Insurance Trade Practice Act and the Florida Money Laundering Act as to all single premium life insurance policies, and single annuity contracts, issued to persons who are not residents of the United States. However, policies written under the new statute are exempt from the premium tax required by Fla. Stat. 624.509.

Greenberg Traurig has completed an in-depth analysis of the Bill, and is coordinating with OIR regarding implementing regulations. Greenberg Traurig is available to assist foreign insurers with the OIR exemption process and required disclosure documentation procedures.

 

This Alert was written by R. Paul Roecker and Richard N. Bernstein. Please contact Mr. Roecker at (407) 418-2368, Mr. Bernstein at (305) 579-0640, or your Greenberg Traurig liaison if you have any questions regarding the subject matter of this Alert.

© 2005 Greenberg Traurig


Additional Information:

For more information, please review our Insurance Recovery and Advisory Practice description, or feel free to contact one of our attorneys.


This GT ALERT is issued for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed or used as general legal advice. Greenberg Traurig attorneys provide practical, result-oriented strategies and solutions tailored to meet our clients’ individual legal needs.