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Brexit discussions: insurance consequences for Lufthansa Group

Martin Gary, managing director of Albatros
Martin Gary, managing director of Albatros

Strict regulation and insurance requirements mean the stakes of a hard Brexit are high for the aviation sector. Martin Gary is managing director at Lufthansa Group's in-house insurance broker. He explains the measures they have put in place.

This article is part of the FERMA/Airmic joint Brexit Newsletter which is designed to give risk professionals unique insight into Brexit related risks and mitigation strategies. 

Martin Gary is managing director of Albatros, Lufthansa Group's in-house insurance broker, in Cologne, Germany. He worked as risk manager of Austrian Airlines, Vienna, for 15 years before taking over his current position in Albatros in 2018. Prior to that he worked in various other positions in aviation including legal and aero-political functions.

Mr Gary's priority is to understand the level of preparedness of insurance carriers in case of a hard Brexit without agreement between the EU and the UK. It is the intention of Albatros to mitigate this exposure without disruption to existing business relationships but at the same time to ensure that all contractual arrangements are Brexit-proof.

Transferring insurance contracts from one jurisdiction to another is indeed a technical challenge, even if it is only between entities in the same insurance group. A close look was also necessary to monitor how the subsidiaries of UK insurers were prepared to take on "continental" risks (European Economic Area). Albatros is also checking the plans and implementation status of UK (re)insurers about how they will ensure that they remain able to insure EU risks post-Brexit - including the handling of run-off losses on expiring policies.

Brexit timing is key

With the initial date of 29 March 2019 for Britain's departure, the transfer of contracts has proven more difficult than a Brexit date at the end of a policy year when renewal discussions take place. Transferring a policy half-way through a year means that some portions of the risks will move to a new entity while the rest remains within the "historic" carrier. It is certainly technically feasible but far more complex.

Now that Brexit is scheduled for 31 October and policies managed by Albatros ending mid-November, some administrative work could still be required to cover the first two weeks of November. To facilitate this process, specific Brexit clauses were already included during the last renewals to allow for a partial shift during the policy year.

The stakes are very high for Lufthansa because aviation insurance is compulsory for operators and strictly regulated by EU and national laws. It is, therefore, crucial that following Brexit, European continental aviation risks are fully covered by EU licensed carriers.

Captive proves vital

Delvag, the Lufthansa captive insurance company, has been proving highly useful as part of the risk management toolbox. Although it carries only a small portion of the risks of the whole group, it remains fully licensed to operate in the EU and will continue to be part of the panel of insurers. Besides, Delvag and Albatros are also prepared for continuing business for their UK clients under the temporary permission regime established by the UK authorities.

A working group within the Delvag Group (which comprises Albatros and Lufthansa's captive Delvag Versicherungs-AG) reports directly to the management board. It is composed of representatives of all departments with UK exposures (client relationship, business partner, insurers, reinsurers or brokers) including risk managers and the legal department.

Many other aspects of Brexit are handled within a working group at Lufthansa Group level as well, with a broader mission to investigate Brexit exposure in all lines of business. The overall objective is to maintain all operations whatever the outcome of the UK departure from the EU.

Preparations are on track

According to Mr Martin, Albatros and its business partners are quite advanced in terms of preparing and securing compliance with insurance legal requirements. The chances of an airline being grounded because of Brexit political developments must be avoided, and insurance coverages must be safeguarded under all circumstances. A hard Brexit would certainly cause a lot of administrative burdens and a few weeks to adjust but Mr Martin is convinced that the situation is manageable.

This article is part of the FERMA/Airmic joint Brexit Newsletter which is designed to give risk professionals unique insight into Brexit related risks and mitigation strategies. Click here for further Brexit discussions.