Insurers quietly optimistic over May's Brexit plans but sector confidence plummets to six-year low

 
Oliver Gill
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Prime Minister Theresa May provided an update on Brexit plans in a speech today (Source: Getty)

The insurance sector welcomed the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan as “a step in the right direction” but warned confidence among firms was at its lowest level since 2011.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposals of a “phased implementation” were welcomed by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), which believed it would lead to a greater degree of certainty over a new UK-EU partnership.

The speech came against the backdrop of new research by CII indicating insurers' economic optimism had plummeted over the last 12 months.

Read more: May guarantees businesses a "phased" move into Brexit

Almost half (45 per cent) of CII members felt the insurance sector would not be well represented in Brexit negotiations and the institute said the research represented a “significant change in confidence”.

However, the managing director of engagement at CII, Keith Richards, said the Prime Minister’s speech gave room for optimism.

He said: “It has acknowledged the risk of an economic and legal 'cliff edge' and the impact it could have, and proposed a 'phased period of implementation' to give firms that much needed breathing space to consider what the new EU-UK partnership could mean for them.

“However she neglected to mention anything about time limits."

On balance Theresa May’s speech today seems to be a step in the right direction to offer the market much of the certainty she seems to hold dear.

Read more: May guarantees both MPs and peers a vote on the final Brexit deal

The poll by the CII of its 3,711 members – undertaken prior to May’s speech – revealed 48 per cent of those polled by the CII expected the UK economy to deteriorate over the next 12 months, nearly ten times higher than a year ago when five per cent felt this was the case.

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