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UK insurers call for clarity on post-Brexit trading

Representatives for U.K., London market and Lloyd's of London insurers have united in calls for clarity on how they will continue to trade with Europe after the U.K. leaves the European Union.

The calls follow the announcement early Dec. 8 that the U.K. and EU are ready to move to the second phase of talks over Britain's departure, setting out terms of the two sides' future trading arrangements.

While welcoming the move to the second stage of talks, Lloyd's of London CEO Inga Beale said, "The insurance sector still urgently needs certainty on the U.K.'s future trading relationship with the EU." She added that Lloyd's remains keen for an agreement that establishes a "sensible transition period" and "a broad and expansive post-Brexit free trade agreement that includes the financial services sector."

She added, "In the meantime we continue to move ahead with our plans to establish a Lloyd's subsidiary in Brussels — which will provide certainty for the market and our clients."

Beale's call for certainty was echoed by Dave Matcham, CEO of the International Underwriting Association, a trade body representing non-Lloyd's London market underwriters.

While he said it was a "great relief" that Brexit discussions were now moving on to the details of the trading relationship between the U.K. and the EU, he added: "I hope that over the next few weeks a greater certainty can now be established about the regulatory status of insurance operations post-Brexit.

"It is vital that firms receive this confirmation before they come under pressure to begin implementing their contingency plans for a scenario in which no new trade agreement is achieved before the Brexit deadline of March 2019."

The Association of British Insurers, which represents the wider U.K. insurance market, also welcomed the progress in Brexit talks but sought clarity on future trading.

"We hope [the progress in talks] can pave the way for substantive commitments in 2018 on both transition arrangements and the future trading relationship with the EU," said ABI director general Hew Evans.

The calls follow proposals by the London Market Group, or LMG, which represents underwriters and brokers across Lloyd's and the London market, for a free trade agreement tailored for the London insurance market.

"If the LMG's proposals are adopted neither the EU nor U.K. would have to sacrifice market access or control over their respective regulatory regimes," Beale said.