On 15 December 2016, the Italian Competition Authority (the "ICA") launched an in-depth investigation against twelve leading Italian insurance companies including the Unipol Group. The officers of those two groups released public statements to the insurance market, on the elimination of the competitive dynamics in the price of the civil liability insurance market services and their respective pricing strategies related to their expected insurance premium increases.
The ICA found that such statements may be considered anticompetitive as it eliminates the uncertainty on the future price strategies and supports the expectation that any increases, being generalised among the major players, do not follow the risk of losing customers which could result in an illegal restrictive agreement between the major players on a possible end of the "price war". The ICA considered that these public market statements breached competition law rules as it forecasted the elimination of competition on both motor insurance costs and the relevant pricing strategies. Therefore, the ICA alleged that the conduct of the two mentioned groups of companies would be considered as an anticompetitive agreement in breach of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (the "TFEU").
However, the alleged breach has yet to be proven at this stage and the investigation continues.