Identifying the Location of Risk in the case of health insurance can be a tricky subject, but it’s also crucial to get it right. A failure to do so could lead to under-declared tax liabilities in a particular territory and the potential for penalties to be applied once these deficits are identified and belatedly settled. We examine the situation from a European perspective.
The starting point in this area is the Solvency II Directive (Directive 138/2009/EC). Notably, Article 13(13) outlines the different categories of insurance risks that are used to determine risk locations. As health insurance doesn’t fall within the specific provisions for property, vehicles and travel risks, it is dealt with by the catch-all provision in Article 13(13)(d).
This Article refers to the ‘habitual residence of the policyholder’ or, where the policyholder is a legal person, ‘that policyholder’s establishment to which the contract relates’. We will consider these scenarios separately, given the distinction between individuals and legal persons.
Where the policyholder is an individual
For natural persons, the situation is generally straightforward. Based on the above, the key factor is the habitual residence of the policyholder. The permanent home of the policyholder tends to be relatively easy to confirm.
More challenging cases can arise where someone moves from one risk location to another. For example, when an individual purchases insurance in a particular country, having lived there for a significant period before moving to another country soon afterwards, the Location of Risk will be the original country. As EU legislation does not go into detail on the point, examples of no apparent habitual residence will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
Where the policyholder is a legal person
In this scenario, we have to consider the ‘policyholder’s establishment to which the contract relates’ in the first instance. The establishment is treated quite broadly, as evidenced by the European Court of Justice case of Kvaerner plc v Staatssecretaris van Financiën (C-191/99), which pre-dates Solvency II.
Notwithstanding the above, the habitual residence of the insured should be used to identify the risk location even where the policyholder is a legal person in certain circumstances. This will occur when the insured is independently a party to an insurance contract, giving them a right to make a claim themselves rather than through the corporate policyholder.
This logic can also potentially be extended to dependents of the insured person added to the policy and who can also separately claim under the contract. They will also create a risk location, although this will often be in the same country as the insured person. Ultimately, the compliant approach will be dictated by the overall set-up of the policy.
If any insurers writing business in Europe have any questions on the location of risk rules, whether concerning health insurance or any other insurance, then Sovos is best placed to provide advice to ensure taxes are being correctly declared.