Insurance companies, provided they are not exclusively active in reinsurance, are legally obliged to guarantee claims arising from insurance contracts by establishing tied assets. Owing to this rule, insured persons have a liability substrate which ensures that their claims under insurance contacts will be satisfied before all other creditors should the insurance company become insolvent.
All insurance companies must abide by certain rules when investing. FINMA Circular 2016/5 sets out the expectations of FINMA regarding the entire investment operations of all supervised insurance companies. Certain general principles apply to all investment operations, i.e. both for tied and free assets.
The Circular also defines the special requirements involved in setting up tied assets and regulates the eligible asset classes, together with the requirements to be met by insurance companies in terms of investment organisation and processes. These rules contain precisely formulated restrictions for riskier asset classes.
FINMA and audit firms monitor compliance with investment rules usually on an annual basis and also in case of special circumstances.
In its annual Report on the insurance market, FINMA publishes the types of investments used by insurance companies for their tied assets.
To ensure compliance with these rules, FINMA also carries out on-site supervisory reviews of selected insurance companies.