On 17 March 2016 the European Commission published a report on the functioning of the Insurance Block Exemption Regulation (IBER). The IBER came into force in 2010 and will expire on 31 March 2017. Its purpose is to exempt certain types of co-operation in the insurance sector from EU antitrust rules. The review of the Regulation started with a public consultation, followed by questionnaires sent to customers, intermediaries, federations, brokers and other stakeholders.
The IBER provides exemptions for agreements between insurers. With regard to joint compilations, tables and studies, the functioning of the insurance industry no longer appears to require an exceptional instrument like the IBER because the Commission’s guidelines on horizontal cooperation, adopted in 2010, offer guidance on how to assess the admissibility of this type of co-operation.
Co-(re)insurance pools are set up by several insurers to cover certain risks such as large scale environmental risks. Only a limited number of companies benefit from the exemption. The review also showed that insurers share risks in various forms and that there is an important and growing market trend away from institutionalised pools as identified in IBER towards alternative and more flexible ways of co-(re)insuring risks.
At this stage, the Commission’s preliminary view is that it is no longer necessary to maintain sector-specific block exemptions. The Commission will organise a meeting with all stakeholders to provide an opportunity to discuss the report's findings. It has also commissioned two studies on issues that stakeholders have raised; firstly, regarding asset switching between different insurance products of relevance for pools and, secondly, different forms of co-(re)insurance available on the market and their impact on competition.