British insurance giant looks to East

  • 2004-05-13
  • From wire reports
VILNIUS - The London-based insurance and reinsurance company Lloyd's has been given the green light to provide services in Lithuania and seven other new EU countries. The U.K. Financial Services Authority has authorized the firm to write direct business in Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Lloyd's is already a licensed insurer in Malta and Cyprus.

The new licenses will allow the insurance giant to accept all classes of business, except for third- party motor liability, on a cross border basis.
With the capacity to accept insurance premiums of more than 14.9 billion pounds in 2004, it is the world's second largest commercial insurer and sixth largest reinsurance group. This year 66 syndicates are underwriting insurance at Lloyd's.
Still, local insurers said they did not expect the insurance giant's arrival to bring about any major changes, since the British giant was apparently limbering up to head further east, to Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.
"All insurance markets in the post-Soviet bloc follow a similar pattern of development. [Lithuania] will probably serve as a training ground for Lloyd's to gain experience before moving on to Belarus, Ukraine and Russia," said Vytautas Valiauga, head of the insurance broker Aon Lietuva.
Lithuania's direct insurance market grew by 10 percent in 2003, compared with 2002, with direct written premiums reaching 814.8 million litas (235 million euros).
The Lithuanian Insurance Supervisory Commission confirmed that it had been notified of Lloyd's authorization to provide services within the country.