Insurance sector under EU anti-trust scrutiny

Business insurance may be overcharging their customers, according to a Commission report. It is now up to the industry and business-insurance customers to respond to the findings, ahead of looming anti-trust enforcement.

The Commission’s interim report, published on 24 January 2007, reveals that prices in business insurance “vary considerably” across Europe and customers are kept from the benefits of a fully competitive market.

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said that the findings “have identified factors on all levels of the supply chain that may prevent the markets from working as well as they should”.

Most businesses are concerned, as they need to protect themselves from major risks. Both small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and large corporate clients would benefit from more competitive business-insurance activity, the Commission said.

The business-insurance industry generated gross premiums of €345 billion in 2004, accounting for roughly 3.3% of the EU’s GDP, according to Commission figures.

Industry and business-insurance customers are invited to respond to the Commission’s findings until 10 April 2007. A public hearing with stakeholders is scheduled for 9 February.

The final report is due to be published in September. The Commission will then decide whether to proceed with anti-trust enforcement.

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