Looking back, the 1970’s was an era of questionable hairstyles and fashion; and in the same decade, both Ziggy Stardust and the Isle of Man’s life insurance sector were born.
The history of the Isle of Man’s life insurance sector began with the overseas activities of UK life companies through branch operations in the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man is now home to 13 international life insurance companies housing around 2,000 employees. Its 40 year success story can be attributed to meeting the needs of high value international groups and positioning itself as a truly global player in the market.
The sector has become renowned for its strength, security and stability, underpinned by a strong regulatory environment that has helped to build the reputation of the Island globally and ensure customers are always placed first. Over time, growth in this sector has also assisted in developing financial services as a whole.
The life insurance sector continues to be the Island’s largest financial services sector and remains a vital part of the local economy, contributing over 16% of the Island’s economic activity. From humble beginnings, the sector has grown to one of the most important sectors for the Island’s economy and it is now hard to believe that pre-1975 it didn’t exist on our shores.
The 1980s started with the Island becoming the first cross-border jurisdiction to create a specific regulatory framework for life insurance and with it the international insurance companies began to arrive. These companies were established in the Isle of Man due to the Isle of Man Government’s forward-thinking approach to regulation, supporting and encouraging the sector; the first such company was established in 1981.
The majority of the companies that were established on the Island during the 1980s did so with a handful of employees operating out of small offices. Today, new purpose built offices in the Business Park and elsewhere on the Island house individually 200-300 staff members. This remarkable growth helps to demonstrate the significant success of the sector and the impact it has had, not only on the Island’s economy but also in terms of its global outlook and reach. By the early 1990s, ten licensed companies were established on the island with branches located in far-flung corners of the world such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai.
2009 saw the Isle of Man life insurance sector take over from the banking sector as the largest economic sector on the Island. The regulatory environment continued to develop at pace and the Island was, and continues to be, widely regarded as a jurisdiction ahead of the curve. The recent introduction of a Risk Based Capital Solvency Regime and the upcoming new Conduct of Business regulations from 1 January 2019 will further cement this and confirm the Island as a strong, stable and secure place to do business.
In late 2017, a major independent strategic review of the Isle of Man’s life insurance sector was carried out, culminating in 15 recommendations for the future protection and growth of the sector. A major campaign is due to commence that will highlight the benefits of using Island based life insurance companies and why the Island is seen as a centre of excellence for life insurance and wealth management.
Various factors are now driving the sector’s growth, which is helping cater to a diverse client base including the benefits offered by insurers and the versatile range of products on offer for expatriates of other countries and local nationals around the world. The Island now has the broadest market footprint of all established cross-border life domiciles. The Island’s life insurance sector offers a wide range of solutions, superior product benefits and features such as, international investment options, risk benefits, and guarantees to investors not otherwise available in their home market and with sound governance and promotion of the sector led by representative body, the MIA.
Over the years, the Island’s life insurance sector has developed an insurance skill base in actuarial, underwriting and policy administration and supported areas such as investment management, accounting and information technology as well as sales and marketing. The sector continues to provide a wide range of career opportunities for the Island’s residents and attracting talented and skilled people from further afield. This development of skills and expertise in the workplace has also crucially helped to ensure excellent customer service to all policyholders.
The Isle of Man is a vibrant business centre, endorsed by world-class businesses that choose the Isle of Man as their base with the facilities and services to support them, offering an efficient, experienced and well-governed environment for businesses and their customers. The Island’s life insurance sector continues to thrive and is looking forward to at least another 40 years aiding economic growth and career opportunities for Island residents.