UAE’s new insurance law: Minimum Dh50,000 claim value mandatory to appeal against dispute committee decision

Expert says that new unit will act as Court of First Instance, reduce number of steps taken to reach resolution

by

Waheed Abbas

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Published: Wed 6 Dec 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 6 Dec 2023, 10:02 PM

The Insurance Settlement Dispute Committee (IDC) has been replaced with the Banking and Insurance Dispute Resolution Unit (Bidru) under the new UAE insurance laws to work as an independent juristic personality established to receive and resolve complaints against insurance companies.

Under the new laws, the unit would also settle disputes arising from insurance contracts, works and services.

According to global law firm Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW), the new law states that insurer cannot appeal the decision made by the Bidru if the claim value doesn’t exceed Dh50,000 under the new UAE insurance laws issued by the government. If the claim value exceeds Dh50,000, the insurer can appeal the unit's decision within 30 days from the issuance date or notification of the decision before the Court of Appeal.

“The fact that decisions are referred to the Court of Appeal illustrates that the Bidru will act as an equivalent to the UAE Court of First Instance, and is a welcome step in reducing the stages required to reach a final binding judgement in respect of insurance claims,” said Sam Wakerley, head of insurance and reinsurance Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) in the Middle East.

Coming into effect on November 30, 2023, the UAE issued Federal Law No. 48 of 2023 replaced Federal Law No. 6 of 2007.

As per the Badri Management Consultancy note issued on the new insurance law, it is allowed to buy insurance from a company outside the UAE if such insurance is not available by any company in the country. Also, policies can be issued electronically, and certain policies may be exempted from being in Arabic language.

Emirates Insurance Association has been replaced by the Emirates Insurance Federation and will be supervised by the UAE Central Bank.

Central Bank intervention

Meanwhile, Article 104 of the new insurance law establishes the Central Bank's capacity to intervene in any lawsuit filed before judicial authorities to which one of the parties is an insurance company, reinsurance company or any insurance-related professional.

Upon notification of the lawsuit, the Central Bank may submit any clarifications, data or information, to the competent authority following investigation into the matter.

“The primary purpose of the new insurance law would appear to be the codification of the transfer of insurance regulation from the Insurance Authority to the UAE Central Bank. Indeed, many provisions of the 2007 Insurance Law remain, and the new law expressly provides that the regulations and circulars issued pursuant to the 2007 Insurance Law remain in force to the extent that they do not contradict the provisions of the new insurance law,” said Wakerley.

In addition, the UAE’s new insurance law will be applicable to companies operating in non-financial free zones and onshore UAE but shall not apply to companies operating in financial free zones.

The 2007 Insurance Law stated that it did not apply to free zones – but did not distinguish between free zones and financial free zones.

While Article 64 of the new law states that companies licensed in financial free zones may not conduct business in the UAE other than in the financial free zones and other than in respect of reinsurance business, said Sam Wakerley.

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