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Insurance Law Definition
It is the body of law, custom, and general principles of jurisprudence governing the legal relationships arising from an insurance contract and the regulation of the insurance activity.
Under Spanish law, insurance law is embodied in different pieces of legislation.
The main Act that regulates the insurance contract is the Spanish Insurance Contract Act 50/1980 (enacted by Act 50/1980 dated October 8). Article 1 of this Act, provides the following definition of insurance contract: “An insurance contract is a contract under which the insurer, in consideration for a premium agrees to indemnify, when an insured risk operates and within the agreed limits, the damage suffered by the insurer or to pay a capital, rent or other agreed compensation."
The provisions of the Insurance Contract Act are mandatory unless the opposite is established in the Act or the agreed terms of the relevant insurance contract are more beneficial to the insured party than the provisions of the Act.
Notwithstanding the above, the provisions of the Insurance Contract Act are not mandatory when dealing with large risks insurance (in Spanish, “seguros de grandes riesgos”), following the definition of large risks provided for in the Directive 2009/138/UE of 25 November 2009. In this regard, Article 44 of the Insurance Contract Act provides that large risks insurance contracts (which are defined in Article 11 of the Law 20/2015 – see below –) are excluded from the mandatory regime of the Act established in its Article 2.
The Insurance Contract Act covers a wide range of insurances, which are broadly classified in two branches: (i) damage insurances and (ii) personal insurances. It is noteworthy that the Act does not regulate maritime insurance specifically, but its provisions are subsidiary applicable to it.
From a regulatory stand point, insurance activity is mainly regulated in Spain by the Regulation, Supervision and Solvency of Insurance and Reinsurance Companies Act (enacted by Law 20/2015 dated 14 July) and the Regulation which develops further this Act (enacted by Royal Decree 1060/2015 dated November 20). The insurance and reinsurance brokerage activity is regulated by the Private Insurance and Reinsurance Brokerage Act (enacted by Act 26/2006 dated July 17).
Accordingly, a Spanish Insurance lawyer may specialize in contractual or regulatory aspects of insurance law. In case of lawyers specialized in contractual aspects of insurance law, they are normally also specialized in other areas of the law (e.g. damages, liabilities, transportation, shipping, etc.) to which the risks insured are associated to.
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