European Commission to question insurers and brokers

Brokers and insurers will this month receive detailed questionnaires from the European Commission as part of its inquiry into anti-competitive practices in the insurance market, according to a leading competition lawyer.

The move is the next stage in the pan-European probe by competition commissioner Neelie Kroes, which began in June last year. It is looking at business insurance products in all member states, initially focusing on the role of intermediaries, property insurance, casualty and liability and reinsurance.

Questionnaires were sent to trade associations such as the LMBC towards the end of last year but, since then, the commission has been focusing its inquiry on the banking sector.

But Alexandra Kamerling, a partner with DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, said the commission was nearly ready to return its attention to the insurance sector.

Kamerling said she understood that the first draft of the questionnaire for individual firms was being worked on and that it was expected to be sent out this month.

"Officials are narrowing the information, to focus on particular things.

"But they [the commission] will request a lot of data and request a lot of information," she said.

It is not yet clear which brokers and insurers will receive the questionnaires, but it is likely to focus on the Lloyd's and London market.

Kamerling warned firms to be cautious when completing the questionnaire.

"There are legal responsibilities. Be careful about volunteering too much information, but answer the question," she said.

A spokesman for Neelie Kroes said: "The commission will shortly be sending out questionnaires to the insurance sector. We cannot provide any details at this stage."