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IAIS Study: Big Insurers May Face Different Capital Rules than Banks

Posted on 30 Sep 2011

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Insurance companies judged too big to fail are likely to face different rules than their banking counterparts, who were told this week that they will be subject capital surcharges, insurance industry standard setters said on Friday.

The International Assn. of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) said it still hasn’t completed its study of which insurance companies are global systemically important financial institutions (G-SIFIs), and they cannot decide whether they should face extra capital rules until that work is complete.

"We are discussing the possible measures—one of them could potentially be a capital surcharge, there are many others—and I would not exclude that the outcome is different from banking but we have not made a decision at this point in time," said Peter Braumueller, chairman of the IAIS executive committee during a press briefing at their annual meeting in Seoul, South Korea.

The IAIS is helping to draw up new rules for the Financial Stability Board, aimed at preventing a repeat of the problems seen at insurer American International Group Inc., which required a rescue by the U.S. government during the 2008 financial crisis.

The rules for insurers are expected to be finalized in time for the G20 meeting in Mexico next year.

"A basic draft will come out by the first half of the year. The work on classification criteria of G SIFI is underway," said Seong In-seok, director general of South Korea's Financial Supervisory Service who was also at the press briefing.

Earlier this week, the Basel Committee of global regulators said it has finalized plans to force 28 of the world's top banks to hold up to 2.5% in extra capital to bolster their ability to withstand any future global credit crunch.