This document contains the following information: Report of the Financial Services Authority on the review of the regulation of the Equitable Life Assurance Society from 1 January 1999 to 8 December 2000, which Her Majesty’s Government is submitting as evidence to the inquiry conducted by Lord Penrose.
On 8 December 2000 Equitable Life announced that it would stop writing new business. This followed a period of uncertainty following a House of Lords judgement, which ruled that it was a breach of contract for them to reduce the terminal bonuses of policyholders who had an annuity at a fixed guaranteed rate. This report examines background to the problems of Equitable Life and the regulatory lessons that could be learnt. It describes the regulatory structure under which Equitable Life operated; the nature of the Guaranteed Annuity Options of the policies and the solvency regime of the Insurance Companies Act 1982. This is followed by a narrative account of the events leading to the FSA assuming responsibility for the prudential regulation of Equitable Life and there is an assessment of the way the FSA and PIA discharged their statutory functions. Finally there are a number of recommendations that cover such issues as: solvency standards; guarantees and options within policies; financial reinsurance; control levels; the role of the appointed actuary; disclosure; the regulatory approach.
This paper was laid before Parliament in response to a legislative requirement or as a Return to an Address and was ordered to be printed by the House of Commons.