What is the legal status of the policyholders?
With the opening of bankruptcy proceedings on 17 November 2016, the entitlement to dispose freely of its assets was withdrawn from Gable Insurance AG. The opening of bankruptcy proceedings covers all insurance contracts. All of the rights and obligations of the policyholders of Gable Insurance AG arising out of their insurance contracts are affected by the opening of bankruptcy proceedings. The consequence of this is that, with effect from the date of the opening of bankruptcy proceedings, the policyholders become creditors of the bankrupt company if they have a claim against this company arising out of the insurance contract. The claims of the policyholders may consist either of premiums that have not yet been used up, or of cover for claims.
The claims of the policyholders will be given preferential treatment during the bankruptcy proceedings. The bankruptcy assets accrued out of the insurance premiums constitute special assets from which insurance claims shall be settled. Policyholders with insurance claims must be treated equally during the bankruptcy proceedings.
The consequence of this requirement to treat policyholders equally is that it will not be possible to settle the claims of policyholders for the present. The Trustee in Bankruptcy must first ascertain the level of the bankruptcy assets. Following this, it must secure the assets. At the same time, the debts also need to be ascertained. This will be done by checking the reported claims. As this process will take a considerable period of time to complete, in view of the large number of policyholders and consequently potential creditors of the bankrupt company, it is not currently possible to ascertain the precise level of the bankruptcy assets. For this reason, it is not at the present time possible to assess to what extent (bankruptcy recovery percentage) it will be possible to satisfy the creditors of the bankrupt company. In this conjunction, the extent to which claims have already been processed is irrelevant. Irrespective of whether a claim has already been settled (but not yet paid), or whether a claim has not yet occurred, all claims arising out of insurance contracts must be treated equally. It is a criminal offence to treat individual creditors preferentially or detrimentally.
What will happen to the insurance contracts / policies?
The opening of bankruptcy proceedings has the effect of withdrawing from Gable Insurance AG its licence to exercise further insurance activities. The withdrawal of this licence means that each policyholder is entitled to terminate the insurance contract with Gable Insurance AG with immediate effect. If this right of termination is not exercised, the insurance contract will expire four weeks after the announcement of the opening of bankruptcy proceedings, which took place on 18 November 2016. This consequently means that the insurance contracts with Gable Insurance AG will expire at the latest on 16 December 2016. Claims that occur after this date are unlikely to be covered by insurance.
Policyholders are urgently recommended to check their insurance protection, and under certain circumstances to make arrangements for alternative insurance cover.
How should client support or claims processing be provided?
It has not yet been decided whether, in what form and by whom pending or newly occurring claims brought by policyholders are to be processed and settled. Orders issued by Gable Insurance AG expired at the time of that the bankruptcy proceedings were opened. New contracts may be signed only with the Trustee in Bankruptcy.
Is it possible to offset claims?
According to information that is currently available to the Trustee in Bankruptcy, insurance brokers collected the premiums of the policyholders. The insurance premiums represent part of the bankruptcy assets, and are consequently available to the bankrupt company for equal distribution amongst the creditors. Insurance brokers are not entitled to retain these assets, or to offset these against their own claims, or even to use these assets to settle claims. Insurance brokers are required to present statements of account, and must arrange for the assets to be returned to the bankrupt company.