The Italian Competition Authority has found that four health care insurance providers—HDI-Gerling Industrie Versicherung AG, Faro Compagnia di Assicurazioni e riassicurazioni S.p.a., Navale Assicurazioni, and Primogest (a multi-firm agency)—participated in anti-competitive behaviour between 2003 and 2008.

The Authority has imposed fines against the companies totalling more than €13 million for setting up a unique and complex agreement to divide up various insurance tenders for the coverage of third party liability and operator liability, as determined by local health care and hospital companies in Campania (region located in the South of Italy). According to the Authority, the agreement affected 18 insurance tenders and nine different procurement entities, accounting for approximately 60 per cent of the health care insurance market in the region.

Antonio Catricalà, the Chairman of the antitrust authority stated that “this agreement is particularly serious due to the health insurance sector’s high vulnerability to coordinated participation in tenders… [and] the extended duration and reach of the agreement itself, which involved large numbers of public entities and contracts. I had already made it clear that health care could no longer be treated as an albero della cuccagna [gravy train]”.

According to the Authority, the alleged cartel manifested itself through the anti-competitive use of co-insurance (both before and after the awarding of tenders), and coordinated participation in tenders by means of exchanging lots and contacts sharing between companies.

Under the agreement, the firms participated in a contract “withdrawal/takeover” mechanism that allegedly avoided competitive confrontation and ensured levels of stability over time for the services provided. The Authority found that, Primogest, the multi-firm agency, played the most active role in coordinating the pre-bid preparatory phase and post-bid withdrawals/takeovers, maintaining relations with health care entities and maximising commissions, while enjoying the right of first choice for participation in future tenders with the companies.

Gerling is part of the Talanx AG group, the primary German insurance group. Faro is Italian and did operate several insurance branches, but is currently undergoing forced liquidation. Navale was a member of the Unipol group at the time of the events but was incorporated in UGF in 2011.

The Fines

  • HDI Gerling: €5,868,703
  • Faro: €2,015,544
  • Navale (now UGF): €5,471,168
  • Primogest: €228,100

Laure Carapezzi, trainee lawyer in McDermott Will & Emery LLP based in the Rome office, also contributed to this blog.