The Insurance Act 2015 is the biggest shake up of insurance contract law for over 100 years, a lawyer has said.
Jon Turnbull, partner at Clyde & Co, said the Act would amend certain sections of the Marine Insurance Act 1906.
Law changes cover: warranty and breach; misrepresentation and non-disclosure; knowledge of the insured and the insurer; fraudulent claims and non-relevant terms to a particular lost.
The changes only apply to business insurance, because consumer insurance is covered by the Consumer Insurance Act 2012.
Turnbull said actuaries would need to consider whether insurers "were taking the right steps in order to limit their liabilities and to take account of the new Act".
In terms of the insured, he said: "Actuaries will be interested in what steps they are taking in order to comply with their obligations."
He said insurance brokers are trying to get insurers to agree to certain changes to policies now, ahead of the Act's implementation. "We have already seen that many brokers are keen to get agreement to changes before the Act comes into force," he said.
Turnbull added brokers had the duty to advise their clients or policyholder what their duties were. "Brokers have a number of duties," he said, "one of which is to advise the policy holder client what its duties are, particularly with regard to conducting a reasonable search. Brokers will also need to be familiar with the policy wordings."
Turnbull said underwriters would need to be careful about what contracts say. "They will need to review, in particular, any warranties or conditions precedent. They will also need to be careful in providing evidence of what interactions they have with brokers. If they ask questions, they will need to keep records of what they have asked, and what responses they have received."
He said risk managers would have to consider what searches they needed to conduct, "in order to comply with their duty to make a reasonable search".
Market reaction to the Act appears supportive. Lloyd’s Market Association and the International Underwriting Association are providing guidelines. Turnbull believes UK association for risk management Airmic is also producing guidelines.
"Lots of people are taking a huge interest in the Act within the industry," he said. "There's pretty much full support for most of the changes. People are not saying it's outrageous. The whole Bill went through based on cross-party support and it came from the Law Commission of England and Wales and Scottish Law Commission, so it has very broad approval."
The Act received Royal Assent on 12 February but firms have 18 months to prepare for it. It will come into force in August 2016.