Vanuatu: Law of Offshore
See Offshore Business Review – Insurance for a more general treatment of captive insurance companies.
Insurance activity in Vanuatu is regulated by the Insurance Act Cap 82. The licensing of insurance companies is carried out by the Financial Services Commission.
Insurance companies in Vanuatu need to be incorporated under the Companies Act, since International Companies are not permitted to engage in insurance activity, although they can hold the shares of a company that does.
Insurers operating domestically would normally use a 'local' limited company, and are called 'local' insurers, while offshore (captive) insurance companies would normally use an exempted company and are called 'exempted' insurers (see Forms of Company).
An exempted insurer is exempt from a number of prudential and reporting requirements under the Insurance Act, including:
- minimum capital and net asset requirements;
- investment restrictions;
- detailed reporting requirements;
- publication of financial statements;
- restrictions on loans to directors.
The Financial Services Commission applies fairly stringent criteria to applicants for exempted insurance company status, some of which are as follows:
- Minimum capital should normally be at least VT15m in the form of cash or liquid assets, although it need not be located in Vanuatu;
- The principals or owners should have financial standing and insurance experience, and this must be attested to by references;
- Documentation required includes a list of jurisdictions to be covered, police clearances for the principals, and a detailed business plan.
A captive (exempted) insurance company may not deal with the public or insure Vanuatu risks. There is no provision in Vanuatu for protected cell corporations or rent-a-captives.
The incorporation and licensing process for a captive in Vanuatu takes two to three months. Normally the administration of a captive should be based in Vanuatu, however there are companies in Port Vila providing captive management facilities.
The annual fee for an insurance license is USD5,000 at the time of writing.