There are four types of entities authorised to conduct insurance activity in Poland:
1. Insurance companies;
2. Main branches of foreign insurance companies (based in non-EU countries);
3. Branches of insurance companies (based in EU); and
4. Foreign EU-based insurance companies providing services from abroad under the freedom to provide services rule.
Under the Act on Insurance and Reinsurance Activity, life insurance contracts can be offered exclusively by life insurance companies. They can also offer personal injury and health insurance, but only as part of a life insurance. All insurance contracts other than life insurance can be offered by so-called property insurance companies. No insurance company can underwrite both life and property insurance.
Main Branches (of non-EU insurance companies)
Foreign insurance companies may establish in Poland so-called main branches. However, it requires obtaining a licence in Poland.
Branches (of EU-based insurance companies)
These are organisational units of foreign insurance companies. They have a seat in Poland and a person appointed as a representative of the insurance company in the branch. Establishment of a branch does not require obtaining a licence in Poland – it involves only a notification procedure.
Freedom to provide services
Since Poland became a member of the EU in 2004, foreign EU-based insurance companies can undertake insurance activity in Poland under the freedom to provide services rule. They do not even have to establish a branch in Poland (if they meet certain criteria). If they decide to establish a branch in Poland, it is far easier than it is for insurance companies from countries that are not members of the EU.
This rule applies even to companies offering compulsory insurance – there are already several EU-based insurance companies selling them in Poland from abroad. Either with or without establishing a branch.