February 14, 2018 / 12:43 PM / a year ago

EU delays tougher consumer protections on insurance policies

LONDON, Feb 14 (Reuters) - New European Union rules to increase protection for consumers wherever they buy insurance products will be delayed from this month to October, the bloc’s member state representatives agreed on Wednesday.

“The delay will enable the insurance industry to better prepare for the directive and for the changes necessary to comply with implementing rules,” the bloc’s member state ambassadors said in a statement after a Brussels meeting.

Some member states also needed more time to put the “insurance intermediation” rules into national law. The changes had been due to come into force on Feb. 23, but are now delayed until Oct. 1.

Given that the European Parliament and member states don’t have enough time to legally change the start date before March, the delay will apply retroactively from Feb. 23, the ambassadors said.

Consultants Deloitte say the reform, which revises an existing EU law, introduces conduct rules already in force in the banking and investment sectors, such as checking whether a product is suitable for a customer.

It also gives regulators a stronger set of sanctions, such as bans and fines, that go far beyond existing rules.

“It is crucial that the European insurance industry has sufficient time to implement the required changes from the point at which regulatory certainty is established,” said William Vidonja, head of conduct of business at Insurance Europe, an industry body. (Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Adrian Croft)

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