More questionnaires sent out as part of anti-competitive practices inquiry

A second wave of questionnaires has been sent out to trade associations by the European Commission (EC) as its inquiry into anti-competitive practices in the business insurance market intensifies.

Associations from across all 25 member states, including the ABI and the LMA, have been asked to submit further details about how their respective markets work following initial consultations in the summer of 2005.

Trade associations have until 11 August to submit their responses and an interim report on all consultations carried out by the EC, which includes insurance companies, brokers and intermediaries, will be issued by the commission in the autumn.

The second set of questionnaires is designed to get more "structured and comprehensive" information, according to the commission.

Issues attracting particular attention from competition commissioner

Neelie Kroes include block exemption, commission arrangements with intermediaries and the relationship between insurers and reinsurers.

Chris Hannant, head of market regulation and specialist lines, at the ABI, told Insurance Times: "[The commission] seems to be interested in understanding the consequences of granting block exemption [which, if granted, allows companies in the insurance sector to carry out certain practices normally prohibited under competition laws].

"It wants to know what is happening as a result, to make sure that it is not opening the door to any anti-competitive activity."

Simon Sperryn, LMA chief executive added: "We have been expecting the questionnaire for some time, after other associations in the EU received a questionnaire in autumn 2005.

"The questionnaire asks about the association's role in producing model wordings."

The commission has been accused during the inquiry of not fully understanding the insurance industry and in particular the London market.

Hannant said: "If this means that the commission is more comfortable with what the insurance sector does as a result then that can only be a good thing."

The commission was unavailable for comment.