Conflict of Interest Policy
- General Scope
In the drafting of this policy, Inter Partner Assistance (hereinafter: “AXA Assistance”) is acting in accordance with the legal and statutory requirements by which it must abide as an insurance company, notably:
- the Law of 2 August 2002 on the supervision of the financial sector and on financial services, as amended by the Law of 30 July 2013 regarding the strengthening of the protection of customers of financial products and services, as well as the powers of Financial Services and Markets Authority, and the various provisions contained therein;
- the Royal Decree of 21 February 2004 regarding the rules of conduct and conflict management requirements, as established by the law concerning the insurance industry;
- the Circular FSMA_2014_02 of 16 April 2014 on the amendment of the Law of 27 March 1995 and the extension of the MiFID conduct of business rules to the insurance sector, published by the FSMA on 16 April 2014.
In accordance with the aforementioned legislation and regulations, and in the interest of its clients, AXA Assistance endeavours to market its products and services in an honest, fair, and professional manner.
To this end, AXA Assistance seeks to prevent and manage conflicts of interest, specifically conflicts of interest that may harm the interests of one or more of its clients when these interests come into conflict with those of an insurance intermediary, those of other clients, of AXA Assistance itself, or those of one of AXA Assistance’s staff members, who are considered the ‘person concerned' (see definition below).
The purpose of this document is to provide information on the various measures for identifying and managing conflicts of interest that may arise, in accordance with the Royal Decree regarding the rules of conduct and with the conflict of interest management rules as established by the law concerning the insurance industry.
For the purposes of this document, the following terms shall mean:
- “Client”: (depending on the situation) the policyholder, the insured person, or the beneficiary of a contract, whether existing or potential;
- “Advice”: The provision of personalized recommendations to the client, either at his/her request, or on the initiative of AXA Assistance, or by one of its brokers or agents approved by AXA Assistance and acting on behalf of AXA Assistance;
- “Contract”: any contract relating to a product or a service;
- “Persons concerned”: any persons who fall in the following categories: (1) AXA Assistance administrators and managers; (2) persons exercising control over AXA Assistance, within the meaning of the Belgian Company Code; (3) AXA Assistance staff members, in as far as they are involved in the provision of the service concerned; (4) persons whose services are at the disposal and under the control of AXA Assistance and who work with AXA Assistance to provide products or services; (5) persons to whom services are outsourced by AXA Assistance;
- “Product”: Any insurance product that has been proposed, distributed or marketed by AXA Assistance in one of the following lines of insurance: Accident (1a); Health (2), Land vehicles (other than railway rolling stock) (3), Damage to property (9), General civil liability (13), Miscellaneous financial loss (16), Legal protection (17) and Assistance (18);
- “Service”: any activity carried out (I) either by AXA Assistance (II) or by approved brokers and agents acting on its behalf, and which consists in one of the following activities: (1) provision of advice with regard to one or more insurance contracts; (2) the presenting or proposing of one or more insurance contracts; (3) the performing of preparatory work prior to the concluding of one or more insurance contracts; (4) the concluding of one or more insurance contracts; (5) any contribution made to the management or the implementation of one or more insurance contracts.
- Scope of application
For the purposes of this document, a conflict of interest shall refer to a conflict that may arise at any given time where there are opposed interests between several persons or entities, resulting in a potential loss for the client. These conflicts of interest can arise between (non-exhaustive list):
- AXA Assistance and its clients;
- AXA Assistance and another company within the Group;
- Between insurers;
- Between clients;
- Between staff members, departments, entities;
- AXA Assistance and insurance intermediaries.
Classification – the term “conflict of interest” covers:
- potential conflicts of interest that may arise, which are identifiable and manageable;
- potential unmanageable conflicts of interest (that may arise, which can be identified, but which in all likelihood are not manageable);
- non-previously identified conflicts of interest that are likely to arise despite the preventive measures taken;
- conflicts of interest that actually arise, and which are observed, despite the preventive measures taken.
Possible sources – a conflict of interest may stem from: (non-exhaustive list)
- the creation of a product or service;
- the distribution of a product or service;
- a policy or a decision regarding acceptance, or pricing;
- the manner in which a claim is managed;
- the appraisal and settlement of a claim;
- advice given to the client;
- a business or technical policy affecting the portfolio;
- a policy or decision regarding provisioning.
Conflicts of interest that are unrelated to the provision of products or services, or which are of a purely internal nature (such as conflicts of interest between AXA Assistance and its employees or between AXA Assistance and its Administrators) are not concerned by this document.
Any reference made to AXA Assistance in this document shall also include the persons concerned.
This policy is only applicable to the activities of AXA Assistance carried out on Belgian territory. This policy is also applied by our “tied” insurance agent(s).
- Conflict of interest management
AXA Assistance seeks to prevent conflicts of interest from harming the interests of its clients. In this context, AXA Assistance seeks to:
- identify potential conflicts of interest;
- develop measures to prevent potential conflicts as well as procedures to manage any conflicts that may arise despite the preventative measures taken;
- inform clients of conflicts of interest that are impossible to prevent or manage;
- notify clients of conflicts of interest that are impossible to manage.
- keep a record of each identified conflict of interest.
Should, despite all of the preventative measures taken, a conflict of interest arise, AXA Assistance shall, immediately on becoming aware of the situation, take all the appropriate steps necessary for its resolution which are legally and/or contractually possible.
- Identification of potential conflicts of interest
A central list of potential conflicts of interest is drawn up beforehand and kept on record by the Compliance Officer at AXA Assistance.
This list, known as “the list of potential conflicts of interest”, is kept up-to-date in light of any developments concerning:
- the company’s organization and the tasks of the operating entities;
- the products and services marketed by AXA Assistance;
- the structure of the Group of which AXA Assistance is a member;
- and in light of any incidents that may have actually arisen.
For the identification exercise of potential conflicts of interest, AXA Assistance initially examines whether one or more generic situations as defined by the law apply, i.e. whether AXA Assistance and/or a person concerned:
- is likely to make a financial gain or avoid a financial loss at the expense of the client;
- has an interest in the outcome of a service provided to the client or a transaction carried out on behalf of the client, which is distinct from the client’s interest in that outcome;
- has a financial or other incentive to favour the interest of another client or group of clients over the interests of the client;
- carries on the same activity or the same business as the client;
- receives or will receive from a person other than the client an inducement in relation to a service provided to the client, in the form of money, goods or services, other than the standard commission or fee for that service.
Moreover, to achieve an acceptable degree of certainty that all potential conflicts of interest are duly identified, AXA Assistance also checks for other situations likely to concern the conflict of interests, taking account of:
- the membership of AXA Assistance to a Group;
- the nature, the scale and the complexity of the business activities carried out by the company;
- the specific tasks of each company’s management or operating entity.
The identification of potential conflicts of interest is ensured by the Compliance Officer. The analysis of conflicts of interest shall be performed in a thorough manner, avoiding the use of general wording or descriptions of the insurance profession or insurance operations.
- Measures and procedures
Conflicts of interest are evaluated and analysed for each of the AXA Assistance departments.
The central component in the management of conflicts of interest focuses on the prevention process, including the identification of potential conflicts of interest (see above) and adequate training/communication for the staff members concerned.
When deemed necessary depending on the nature of the conflict, other measures shall at least include the following:
- Measures to control or limit the exchange & use of information: to avoid the use or sharing of information within AXA Assistance that is likely to give rise to conflicts of interest;
- Measures to prevent the exercising of inappropriate influence: to prohibit or limit the exercising of inappropriate influence by any person on the manner in which a “tied” person carries out an activity or provides a service relating to the insurance profession.
- Organisational arrangements: to ensure that potential conflicts of interest stemming from the organization of the company are prevented or that the consequences thereof are limited; these arrangements are defined in various documents, such as terms of employment, employment contracts, codes of conduct, and internal policies, etc.;
- Measures to control remunerations and other benefits accorded and received: to prevent that remunerations and other benefits accorded or received by AXA Assistance do not bring about any conflict of interests;
- Measures of abstention: to ensure that, when there is no satisfactory solution allowing the interests of the clients concerned to be protected and when notification of the conflict is not opportune, the product or service is not provided and the insurance transaction is not carried out.
The task of developing measures to prevent and to manage conflicts of interest is ensured by the company’s Compliance Officer: Mr Alain MICHEL (firstname.lastname@example.org).
All measures developed in this respect are subject to approval by the Effective Management of AXA Assistance.
- Client notification of unmanageable conflicts of interest
When it can reasonably be expected that any measures taken to manage a conflict of interest will not be sufficient to protect the clients’ interests, the clients concerned shall be informed of the general nature and/or of the sources of the conflict of interest. Information must be communicated prior to the provision of the product or to the implementation of the service with which the risk of conflict of interest is associated. The procedure for notification of unmanageable conflicts of interest must remain the exception and is subject to approval by the Compliance Officer. The aforementioned step is not to substitute for the development of conflict of interest management measures as laid out and required above.
- Rigorous recording of identified conflicts of interest
Conflicts of interest that arise and which have been identified must be disclosed by the persons concerned to the line manager and to the Compliance Officer. Disclosed conflicts of interest are then kept on record in the “Central register for conflicts of interest”, which is managed and kept up-to-date on a regular basis by the Compliance Officer.
- Adequate training of the persons concerned
Fostering and continuously ensuring a culture of compliance within AXA Assistance is essential. To achieve this goal and to manage conflicts of interest in a suitable manner, it is important to ensure that all the persons concerned benefit from the necessary training and support, for them to properly grasp the concept of “conflict of interest” and to understand AXA Assistance’s conflict of interest policy”.
- Policy implementation
The management of AXA Assistance is taking the necessary measures to implement this policy and to monitor its application. The effectiveness of this policy and of its implementing measures is subject to regular appraisal by the Compliance Officer.
This conflict of interest policy was approved by the Executive committee on 28/11/2014.