Insurance & Reinsurance

Our dedicated Insurance Department is consistently recognised as the market leader in Ireland on insurance (life and non-life) and reinsurance matters.  This multi-disciplinary team has provided legal, regulatory and tax expertise in some of the largest and most complex (re)insurance transactions in recent years. Our specialist expertise covers all aspects of (re)insurance law and regulation and our clients include many of the largest domestic and international insurers and reinsurers. 

Areas of expertise include: 

  • Establishment / authorisation of new (re)insurance operations and strategic planning
  • Mergers, acquisitions, disposals, joint ventures, re-structuring of businesses and Societas Europaea structures 
  • Court-sanctioned portfolio transfers and schemes of arrangements 
  • All prudential and conduct of business requirements under Solvency II including capital requirements, corporate and product governance, compliance and outsourcing 
  • Captive (re)insurance operations
  • Alternative risk transfer arrangements including insurance-linked securitisations (ILS) 
  • Insurance mediation activities and distribution channels
  • Reinsurance / retrocession arrangements (including finite and financial reinsurance)
  • Winding up and administration of insurers
  • Regulatory investigations and enforcement actions


As a full-service law firm we are able to draw extensively on our colleagues’ expertise in M&A, tax, Competition & Regulation, Litigation & Dispute Resolution and other areas.

Our experience includes advising/acting for:

Mergers and Acquisitions

Acting on the buy-side or sell-side in domestic and international deals including:

  • Berkshire Hathaway (Columbia Insurance) on its acquisition of Hartford Life Europe
  • SCOR on its acquisition of the mortality risk business of Transamerica Re
  • RSA Insurance on its acquisitions of Europa Group, Sertus Insurance and Benchmark Underwriting
  • Alterra/Harbor Point (now Markel) in its amalgamation with Max Capital
  • Enstar on its acquisition of Citilife Financial (now Laguna Life) from Citigroup 
  • and its vendors on its acquisition by RSA Insurance
  • NPG Wealth Management (JC Flowers) on its acquisition of Combined Life Assurance Company of Europe from ACE Group
  • Vivas Health vendors on its sale to Aviva Insurance
  • Reinsurance Group of America (RGA) on the acquisition on a renewals basis of the life accident and health business of XL Re
  • IPC Re in relation to its merger with Validus, and previous amalgamation plan involving Max Capital
  • Wellpoint on the acquisition of DeCare Dental
  • Carlyle Group on its acquisition of the motor assist business RAC Group from Aviva 

Restructurings and Portfolio Transfers

Domestic and cross-border restructurings and inward/outward transfers of (re)insurance books involving High Court and regulatory authorisations including:

  • Allied World, Alterra (Markel), AXA and SCOR on Court sanctioned mergers of Irish insurance, reinsurance and hedging platforms
  • Electrolux on the portfolio transfer of the non-life insurance business from its Irish captive to its Swedish captive
  • Ericsson in the portfolio transfers of its insurance and reinsurance captive business to its non-life local carrier 
  • Scottish Re on the portfolio transfer of its Irish business to its Cayman Islands affiliate
  • Darta Saving Life and Allianz on the portfolio transfer of German branch life business
  • Oney on the portfolio transfer of its PPI portfolio to its Malta insurance platform 

Authorisations and New Establishments

The establishment of head office operations in Ireland selling on a freedom of services/freedom of establishment basis across EEA jurisdictions including recent set-ups involving:

  • AXA Life Europe, AXA Life Invest and AXA Reinsurance Ireland
  • Allianz Global Life
  • MetLife
  • Fidelity Worldwide Investment (FIL)
  • Wüstenrot & Württembergische
  • R&V Lebensversicherung 
  • Santander Insurance
  • Ironshore

Insurance Linked Securitisations and Capital Markets

  • SCOR on the various Atlas (I to VI) cat bond insurance linked securitisations
  • Scottish Re on its Orkney II and Ballantyne Re securitised reinsurance structures
  • AXA Cessions in its Osiris mortality cat bond programme
  • AXA as sponsor of Calypso Capital in its European windstorm debt issuance
  • EDF as sponsor of Pylon II

Run-offs and Winding-ups

  • Berkshire Hathaway (Columbia Insurance) on its acquisition of Hartford Life Europe
  • LCL Acquisitions (Charles Taylor Group) on its acquisition of Irish non-life insurance undertaking Santam Europe (in run off)
  • Enstar on its acquisition of Citilife (now Laguna Life)
  • Capricorn Insurance, IAG Re (Australia) (and others) on schemes leading to the surrender back of (re)insurance authorisations to the Central Bank of Ireland

General Advisory and Other Regulatory Work

  • Various authorised (re)insurers on on-going legal and regulatory aspects, including dialogue with the Central Bank of Ireland on areas such as product development and corporate governance best practice and potentially contentious matters such as on-site visits, administrative sanctions and enforcement.

Contentious Insurance

  • Advising various professional firms regarding professional indemnity claims including stockbrokers, accountancy and consultancy firms, real estate and valuation firms, and international insurance brokers
  • Acting for a major Irish insurer in relation to professional indemnity and public products liability cases.  Subrogated claims against third parties, property damage and business interruption policies
  • Advising on the coverage and policy wording of various insurance policies for bodies in the financial services sector including reinsurance, catastrophe insurance, D&O and combined business & liability insurance

Central Bank Highlights Key Prudential Risks Facing Irish Insurers in 2023

The Central Bank of Ireland highlights the key prudential risks that will inform its 2023 supervisory priorities for the Irish insurance sector.

Access to the Irish Register of Beneficial Owners of Companies is Partially Reinstated

Access to the Irish Register of Beneficial Owners of Companies has been partially reinstated, having been suspended in light of a recent judgement by the European Court of Justice.

EIOPA Supervisory Statement on the Management of Non-affirmative Cyber Exposures

The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority published a supervisory statement on the management of non-affirmative cyber exposures.

EIOPA Supervisory Statement on Exclusions in Insurance Products Related to Risks Arising from Systemic Events

The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority published a supervisory statement on exclusions related to systemic events.

Irish cross-border life insurer sanctioned by the Central Bank of Ireland

On 8 December 2022, the Central Bank of Ireland (the Central Bank) reprimanded and fined AXA Life Europe DAC (ALE), an Irish cross-border life insurer, €3,640,000 pursuant to its Administrative Sanctions Procedure.

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The William Fry insurance team is consistently rated "Band 1" and a leader in its field by publications including Chambers Europe, Legal 500, IFLR, “Who’s Who of Insurance and Reinsurance Lawyers” and “World’s Leading Insurance and Reinsurance Lawyers”.

Members of the team including John LarkinEoin Caulfield and Owen O'Sullivan are individually ranked as "Leading Individuals" and as "Band 1".

The team prides itself on service excellence and a commercial and solution-oriented approach to its work.


  • William Fry have "industry leading knowledge in the insurance practice." One client notes that they "have worked with multiple attorneys and departments within William Fry and have found that all of those attorneys possess in-depth knowledge of the Irish regulatory market and provide advice from a practical point of view." Another client adds that the team "respond in a timely and thorough manner and provide valuable insights. They also raise considerations that we may not have thought of." Legal 500 2020
  • One client describes the team as "very receptive and responsive," as well as "easy to engage, straightforward and practical." Another source enthuses that the "client service is exceptional," adding: "They understand our business, and the sector generally. That depth of understanding and practical experience with other organisations means they have previously faced many of the challenges we face." Chambers Europe 2020
  • Interviewees single out the firm for its pragmatism, citing a "very commercial approach and strong focus on business needs". Another interviewee echoes a similar sentiment: "we were very impressed by their responsiveness and their ability to grasp the commercial reality of their client's situation". Chambers Europe 2019 
  • Interviewees appreciate that the team delivered "unequivocal advice with confidence, which allowed us to get on with our business." The team has "an eye for detail," reports one client, while another adds that the lawyers are "very thorough and focused." Chambers Europe, 2018 
  • Clients agree that the lawyers are "excellent: they provide a quick turnaround and are very pragmatic." Another source praises the team's "good knowledge and service,"  adding: "They are well known for insurance matters."  Chambers Europe 2017 
  • William Fry’s team provides ‘excellent partner access and practical advice’. Legal 500 EMEA, 2017
  • "This firm has been a great cultural fit for us. There is no pomp and circumstance - the lawyers are very knowledgeable and hard-working but don't have the arrogance you can sometimes experience elsewhere." Another client noted that William Fry are "A leading firm in the area of insurance and corporate transactions, matching up against anyone else I could recommend." Chambers Europe, 2016
  • "Excellent on all fronts." Legal 500 EMEA, 2016 


John Larkin

  • John has been described by clients as having "industry leading knowledge and a wealth of practical experience in Irish and European insurance matters. John’s calm demeanour, understanding of how theory relates to practice and ability to understand and translate clients’ issues are particularly valuable." Another client adds that John has "been exceptional in helping us navigate through complex Brexit-related issues." Legal 500 2020
  • "Larkin is extremely knowledgeable and helps us navigate through complicated regulatory matters." reports one interviewee. Chambers Europe 2020
  • One client describes John as "knowledgeable, personable, and available. An excellent business partner and adviser." Chambers Europe 2019
  • John is an "incredible lawyer," market commentators enthuse, highlighting the depth of his knowledge in this area. Another interviewee reports that he "really pays attention to detail." Chambers Europe 2018
  • John Larkin, whose "industry knowledge is second to none", has "built a strong team around him". Legal 500 EMEA 2018
  • John Larkin remains a market-leading practitioner in non-contentious insurance matters. Sources praise his outstanding reputation, with one client opining: "He is probably the standout figure in the industry." Chambers Europe, 2017 
  • John Larkin is "widely known as a leader in the market" offering "excellent experience, particularly in the context of anticipating regulatory involvement"Chambers Europe, 2016 
  • The team, led by John Larkin, is ‘diligent and detailed’Legal 500 EMEA, 2016

Eoin Caulfield

  • Eoin has been described by clients as "very knowledgeable, hard-working, pragmatic and solution-oriented." Chambers Europe 2020
  • Eoin is revered throughout the market for his expertise assisting prominent insurers and reinsurers. Interviewees praise his "excellent knowledge" when advising clients on regulatory and transactional instructions. Chambers Europe 2019 
  • Clients hold Eoin in high esteem for his presence on insurance matters. They report that he is "very responsive, flexible and commercial." Chambers Europe 2018 
  • Eoin Caulfield enjoys a superb reputation as a pre-eminent practitioner in corporate and transactional insurance mandates. Clients say: "He is a reinsurance expert with a good overview of the Irish market. He is very efficient, affable and always available when needed.Chambers Europe, 2017 
  • Eoin "demonstrated exceptional expertise and a pragmatic approach. He dealt with sensitive issues skilfully to advance our interests without getting into a row or generating disputes." Chambers Europe, 2016 
  • "Eoin Caulfield has a fantastic understanding of liability". Legal 500 EMEA, 2016 

Owen O'Sullivan

  • Owen garners widespread praise for his expertise in shareholder disputes and regulatory enforcement actions. "He is surgical in his approach; he can pick a case apart to find the strengths and weaknesses," says one impressed interviewee. Another source notes: "He understands all of the issues involved in going to court and is good at explaining those issues." Chambers Europe 2020
  • Owen has been ranked has a 'Leading Individual' in Legal 500 2020, where one client mentioned he is a "great tactical thinker."
  • Sources describe him as "an excellent litigator" and a "very polished operator." Chambers Europe 2019 
  • Market commentators describe Owen O'Sullivan as "deadly efficient, thorough, cool and analytical" in his approach to commercial litigation. Chambers Global 2018
  • Owen O’Sullivan is ‘an excellent legal thinker’. Legal 500 2018
  • Owen O'Sullivan receives plaudits from a range of market commentators, describing him as an "excellent corporate litigator" and "a very astute operator"who has "very tactical and good commercial judgement." Chambers Global 2017
  • Owen O'Sullivan is a litigator and dispute resolution specialist with an exceptional reputation, including sound knowledge and experience of insurance disputes who is "quickly able to make decisions on how to handle certain situations, taking into account all stakeholders that may be affected." Interviewees praise him as a "very astute guy with really reliable intuition in court."  Chambers Europe 2016

Key Contacts

Eoin Caulfield Partner

Ian Murray Partner

John Larkin Consultant

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