What is the legal status of the policyholders and in the case of other claims arising out of an insurance contract?
With the opening of bankruptcy proceedings on 17 November 2016, the entitlement to dispose freely of its assets was withdrawn from Gable Insurance AG.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 are given privileged treatment in bankruptcy proceedings if they have arisen from a loss event. Claims for reimbursement of unused premiums are given preferential treatment, provided that the insurance contract was cancelled before the opening of bankruptcy proceedings. Claims for reimbursement of unused premiums that have arisen due to the opening of bankruptcy proceedings and therefore on or after that date do not constitute privileged insurance claims. These are treated as fourth-class bankruptcy claims.
Persons who are not policyholders but have a claim against Gable Insurance AG under an insurance contract as insured persons or beneficiaries are also creditors of the bankrupt insurance company since the opening of bankruptcy proceedings. Their claims are given privileged treatment in bankruptcy proceedings as they have arisen from a loss event. The same applies to injured third parties if they have a direct right of action against Gable Insurance AG.
The bankruptcy assets accrued out of the insurance premiums constitute special assets from which privileged insurance claims shall be settled on a priority basis. Non-privileged bankruptcy claims will be satisfied only if the privileged insurance claims are fully covered. Persons with privileged insurance claims must be treated equally.
Claims filed in the bankruptcy proceedings, whether privileged insurance claims or non-privileged bankruptcy claims, cannot be satisfied for the present and until further notice. The liquidator 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 further parties with claims arising out of insurance contracts, 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 ratio) 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 within the same category must be treated equally. However, privileged insurance claims enjoy absolute priority over all other claims. They have a privilege of separate settlement from the special settlement assets (special assets).