The IBER, which came into force on 1 April 2010, exempts certain types of cooperation in the insurance sector from EU antitrust rules, subject to certain conditions. These exemptions are limited to joint compilations, tables and studies, as well as to co-insurance and co-reinsurance pools. Such cooperation between insurers arises because of the need to exchange information in order to develop a better understanding of insured risks and to rate them more reliably. This explains the need for a specific exemption, so that such cooperation may not be targeted by the authorities as restrictive practices.
As the IBER will expire on 31 March 2017, the Commission started a public consultation in 2014 before deciding whether the Regulation should be renewed in its current form, modified or even be allowed to lapse. Presented on 17 March 2016, the Commission’s preliminary findings from this review identify two main reasons why sector-specific block exemptions in the insurance sector may no longer be necessary.
The Commission finds that guidelines on horizontal cooperation adopted in December 2010 already offer the benefits of information exchange with greater flexibility with regard to joint compilations, tables and studies. The study undertaken by the Commission also reveals the limited use and the irrelevance of the Regulation with respect to co-(re) insurance pools intended to cover large scale terrorism and environmental risks. In reality, most of the potential beneficiaries of the exemption do not consider themselves within the scope of the IBER. Furthermore, they share risks in more varied and flexible forms than institutionalised pools, as referred to in the IBER.
A meeting will be organised in April 2016 with stakeholders to discuss the report’s findings but the future appears bleak for the IBER.