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Common Framework for the Supervision of Internationally Active Insurance Groups (ComFrame)

Last Updated 6/13/16

Issue: The regulation of insurance groups garnered considerable attention following the global financial crisis of 2008, with various regulatory agencies developing new guidelines and requirements for the supervision of financial holding companies. In the U.S., the Solvency Modernization Initiative (SMI), initiated in June 2008, led to substantive changes regarding how insurance groups will be monitored and regulated in the coming years, including amendments to the Insurance Holding Company System Regulatory Act (#440) and the Insurance Holding Company System Model Regulation (#450). Globally, however, the most significant development regarding group supervision is a major project initiated at the International Association of Insurance supervisors (IAIS) known colloquially as ComFrame (Common Framework for the Supervision of Internationally Active Insurance Groups).

Overview: ComFrame is a set of international supervisory requirements focusing on the effective group-wide supervision of internationally active insurance groups (IAIGs). An IAIG is a large, internationally active group that includes at least one sizeable insurance entity. ComFrame sets out a comprehensive range of quantitative requirements specific to IAIGs, and requirements for supervisors of IAIGs. ComFrame is built and expands upon the high level requirements and guidance currently set out in the IAIS Insurance Core Principles (ICPs) which generally apply on both a legal entity and group-wide level.

ComFrame is structured in three Modules with each module made up of a number of standards (referred to as elements). Module 1, Scope of ComFrame, includes the criteria and process for the identification of IAIGs by supervisors, the breadth of supervision of IAIGs (which legal entities are included) and the identification of the group-wide supervisor. Module 2, The IAIG, contains the requirements that an IAIG will need to meet. Module 3, The Supervisors, covers the process of supervision, highlighting the role of the group-wide supervisor and other relevant supervisors’ responsibilities within the process. This module covers the supervisory process, enforcement, cooperation and interaction requirements.

The Development Phase of ComFrame began in 2010 and concluded at the end of 2013, with several ComFrame drafts released for public consultation during this period. ComFrame is currently being field tested to assess the value and practicality of the various requirements, so it can be modified as necessary prior to formal adoption. The IAIS is currently scheduled to formally adopt ComFrame in 2019, with its members to begin implementing ComFrame thereafter.

Background: The IAIS issued its first exposure draft of the Concept Paper on ComFrame in July 2011. The Concept Paper composed of five primary work streams called “Modules,” with each Module further broken down into elements prioritized for purposes of development and exposure. In March 2012, a new structure for ComFrame was proposed and subsequently approved by the IAIS Technical Committee. The new structure consisted of four Modules (replacing the five Modules of the previous structure). In July 2012 the IAIS released a Draft ComFrame for public consolation. The 2012 ComFrame Draft marked the completion of the second step in its three-year Development Phase. A third Draft ComFrame was issued for public consultation in October 2013.

It was also announced in October 2013 that the IAIS will develop a risk-based global insurance capital standard (ICS). An initial version is due to be developed by  2017. Full implementation is expected in 2019 after two years of testing and refinement with supervisors and global insurance groups. The ICS will be developed within ComFrame and apply to all IAIGs. The IAIS hopes the ICS will provide a more comparable measure of capital across jurisdictions and allow host supervisors to have greater confidence in the group-wide supervisor’s decisions and analysis.

Status: State insurance regulators, working through the NAIC, released a position paper on ComFrame in April 2015 titled, “U.S. Insurance Regulators’ Views: IAIS Common Framework for the Supervision of Internationally Active Insurance Groups “ComFrame.” The purpose of the position paper is to articulate the views of U.S. state insurance regulators toward ComFrame and to identify the characteristics of ComFrame that are necessary for U.S. state insurance regulators to support its implementation in the national system of state-based insurance regulation. A position paper on the International Capital Proposals was also released in 2015.

The NAIC’s international involvement has been increasingly focused on strengthening the supervision of insurers that operate in multiple countries, or IAIGs. The ComFrame Development and Analysis (G) Working Group provides ongoing technical review as well as expedited strategic input on ComFrame. In addition, the NAIC's International Insurance Relations (G) Committee supports the work of the IAIS by participating in Executive, Technical and other relevant Committee meetings, and by drafting and commenting on papers to represent the views of U.S. insurance regulators.