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Global Risk Spotlight Series: Poland

04 December 2023
Poland, Warsaw Small banner

Continuing the ‘Spotlight on Global Risk’ series, Bill Evans spoke with Pawel Stykowski, Head of Insurance for DWF Poland.

DWF has an unparalleled insurance presence in EMEA and its Insurance Department in Warsaw is further proof that we are committed to major insurance markets.


Pawel Stykowski, you're the Head of Insurance for DWF Poland. Tell us a little about your team and the work you do for insurers?

My team consists of lawyers at all stages of their careers. We have multiple partners and a highly experienced special counsel, as well as more junior lawyers. 

We are instructed by insurers regularly on many varied matters. These include instructions to advise on the acquisition of insurance companies, the wording of new insurance policies as well as policy coverage and claims work. Every day we provide advice to claims handling teams regarding the legitimacy of claims, establishing liability and settlement negotiations. 

As just one example, we have recently provided advice to PZU (the largest Polish insurance company) regarding the acquisition of Polski Gaz TUW and Polski Gaz TUWnŻ (two insurance companies). We are very proud of the fact we were asked to advise in this instance ahead of our competitors. 

The Polish market is a growing market. Why is it important for insurers to have lawyers with local expertise and presence?

It is certainly true that the insurance market in Poland is growing and becoming more sophisticated. For example, the largest line in the Polish market is still car insurance. Also, the way policies are being distributed is changing with more lines being written and distribution increasing online. Property damage claims are rapidly increasing for example. 

As part of this rapid growth and expansion, language barriers are not the only hurdles to overcome. When developing new products or even just adjusting foreign policies for the Polish market, insurers must be advised on local regulations and set up structures in accordance with the local provisions transposing the IDD for example. Obviously, policies are almost always governed by Polish law which requires local advice too.

What other advice do you have for London Market insurers when it comes to operating in Poland?

London Market insurers regularly write policies in Poland through their EU subsidiaries. Even though some insurers don't have a company or even a branch in Poland, they are still required to comply with Polish law regarding the distribution of insurance products as well as provisions concerning contracts of insurance. Polish law is very different to English law in these areas and requires specialist, local advice. 

Over the years, I've seen a number of policies that were governed by Polish law, but clearly were not amended from previous forms or jurisdictions. This is obviously problematic. We are able to advise on this very point and when it comes to suitable wordings that are workable under Polish law.

As a final point, there are Polish requirements for claims handling, handling complaints as well as reporting obligations which may be quite a surprise for foreign insurers – we are able to set out provisions that are relevant to conducting insurance activity in Poland and are happy to answer clients' questions in these areas.

I understand that you worked as General Counsel for a local insurer in Poland. How is that experience useful now?

Yes, I spent 4 years at InterRisk, a Polish insurer that covered all lines of non-life insurance. I supervised its litigation team (thousands of cases per year) as well as its regulatory team. I was also the Compliance Officer during my time at InterRisk. 

My experience was very useful in that I came to understand the challenges insurers face across their businesses from resourcing to costs as well as compliance. I feel that experience gave me insight into how I can best assist the industry now.

What separates DWF Poland's Insurance Department from our competitors?

Firstly, I should say that it is disappointing that most of our competitors have not invested in Poland at all. I am proud that DWF has chosen to do so significantly.

My team not only works for insurers but regularly conducts training sessions for insurance companies and the Polish Insurance Association. We consider that our relationships with insurers are partnerships and we try to contribute to the industry through these initiatives. I have been involved in the insurance sector since 2007 and am also a columnist for major insurance publications.

I also spent a year at the Cardiff University Law School to get to know English contract law and company law – thanks to that experience, it's easier for me to explain how Polish law works to British clients. Our legal systems are very different, so simple translation is not enough! There are not many insurance lawyers in Poland with that background. 


For more information or enquiries, please contact Bill Evans or Pawel Stykowski
Global Risk Spotlight Series
Read more from the 'Spotlight on Global Risk Series' that takes you on a journey through our offices and associate offices by introducing you to key people and capabilities.

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