FINMA can license one or more insurance sectors (Art. 6 para. 3 Insurance Supervision Act [ISA]) at a time. These are listed in Appendix 1 of the Insurance Supervision Ordinance (ISO).
A licence to offer direct insurance also implicitly includes authorisation to provide reinsurance in the sectors. Insurance companies which offer direct life insurance may only additionally offer accident and health insurance (Art. 12 ISA). More detailed information about the requirements and licence application process is available in the various guidelines and forms relating to business plans.
Under Article 7 ISA, an insurance company must be either a limited company or a cooperative. Foreign insurance companies which intend to commence insurance activities in Switzerland also require authorisation. Furthermore, they must have a branch in Switzerland and appoint a general agent. These requirements may be superseded by the provisions of international agreements (see Art. 15 ISA). Switzerland has a bilateral agreement with Liechtenstein which permits freedom of establishment and service provision in the direct insurance sector.