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Licensing guidelines for life insurers and friendly societies

Who needs a life insurance or friendly societies licence?

Under the Life Insurance Act (the Life Act), a person must not intentionally carry on life insurance business in Australia unless they are registered to do so. If your business intends to conduct any business that can be classed as life insurance business, you need a licence from APRA registering you to conduct life insurance business in Australia.

Part 2 of the Life Act defines ‘life insurance business’ as business that consists of issuing life policies, undertaking liability under such policies, and any business that relates to this business.

The Life Act only allows corporations to carry on life insurance business in Australia, which means APRA cannot consider applications from partnerships or unincorporated entities.

Friendly societies

A friendly society, sometimes referred to as a mutual society, is a financial organisation owned by its members and not shareholders. Friendly societies that are conducting life business are required to be registered by APRA under the Life Act.

The expression ‘friendly society’ in relation to a financial business is a restricted expression. This means you can only refer to your business as a friendly society once APRA has registered you as a friendly society under the Life Act.

Application guidelines

For more information on the licensing and registration of life insurers and friendly societies, see the guidelines on registration of life companies. The guidelines outline APRA’s authorisation process for life insurers and friendly societies, including the minimum criteria to be addressed by applicants and the necessary information required to be lodged with an application.

Before you lodge your application for a life insurer or friendly society licence, ensure you have read and are familiar with the prudential framework for life insurers and friendly societies, including relevant legislation, prudential standards and prudential practice guides. You can find all of this information on the life insurance and friendly societies supervision web pages.

For more information email the APRA Licensing team: licensing [at] apra.gov.au.