industry body the Comité Européen des Assurances (CEA) has strongly
urged the European Commission (EC) to renew the Insurance Block
Exemption Regulation (IBER) beyond its current March 2010 expiry
date. Failure to do so would be detrimental to the interests of
consumers, warns the CEA.
First introduced in 1992 and amended in March 2003 the IBER grants
an exemption to the application of competition rules to certain
types of agreements in the insurance sector. These are:
• The exchange of statistical information for the calculation of
• Standard policy conditions and models on profits;
• Common coverage of certain types of risks; and
• Security devices/safety equipment.
The CEA’s call for renewal of the IBER came in response to the EC’s
consultation on the IBER which ended in July. The EC must submit a
report to the European Parliament and Council on the functioning of
the IBER by March 2009.
In its submission to the EC the CEA said that without the legal
certainty provided by the IBER the level of co-operation within the
insurance market would probably decrease dramatically. This
cautioned the CEA, would deprive the EU economy, consumers and
insurance undertakings of the tangible benefits of co-operation in
terms of insurance availability, pricing and choice.
“The IBER helps insurers to generate efficiencies through
legitimate co-operation,” said the CEA’s director general Michaela
Koller. “Without the legal certainty that the IBER provides, there
would likely be a significant drop in such co-operation, to the
detriment of insurance buyers.”
Should the IBER not be renewed the EC has stressed that this would
not automatically render the currently block exempted categories of
In the absence of a IBER, companies would instead need to assess
their agreements in terms of the EC Treaty’s ban on restrictive
Despite this the CEA noted that a number of operators and
associations have sent clear signals that, if the IBER were to
cease, they would seriously consider abandoning business
co-operation for fear that such co-operation might be challenged by
the competition authorities.