On May 10, 2022, the ICA accepted and made binding the commitments offered by the parties in an investigation concerning an alleged exchange of information in the direct sales of motor vehicle insurance policies. The alleged exchange took place between Italy’s leading companies offering price-comparison services (the “Comparators”) and 13 insurance companies (the “Insurance Companies”) and intermediaries (the “Intermediaries”; jointly, the “Parties”).[1]

In its decision to open the investigation,4 the ICA had taken the view that the Parties constantly and regularly exchanged sensitive information on the economic conditions for the sale of motor vehicle insurance policies. Such exchanges allegedly took place through the regular distribution, mostly on a daily or weekly basis, of reports prepared and distributed by the Comparators, containing information regarding, inter alia: (i) the premiums of the policies listed on their Internet websites, (ii) the positioning of the Insurance Companies on these websites, and (iii) the data of consumers who had made the requests for a quotation. The ICA suspected that the alleged information exchange was aimed at enabling Insurance Companies to charge final consumers higher premiums for motor vehicle insurance policies by applying lower discounts, due to the mutual knowledge of their respective commercial strategies and pricing policies, in violation of Article 101 TFEU.

In the course of the investigation,[2] the ICA reclassified the alleged restriction of competition as a restriction by effect, rather than by object. The ICA asserted that the data exchanged, by nature and type, served a variety of purposes in the Parties’ commercial policies, including that of enabling the participants to offer more attractive commercial terms to customers, and was not aimed solely at setting higher premiums.

In order to address the competition concerns raised by the ICA in its decision to open the investigation, the Parties submitted joint commitments, including:

  1. limiting the content and frequency of the reports provided by the Comparators to the Insurance Companies, e.g., by not including information identifying the quotation or the user requesting it; by anonymizing and aggregating information regarding premiums offered by the Insurance Companies and the Intermediaries through the Comparators; and by transmitting such data no more frequently than weekly, in relation only to quotations of at least three months before;
  2. not using reporting services that provided for ways of processing and/or circulation of information that were not compliant with the criteria under (i); and
  3. making the reports provided by the Comparators accessible to the generality of insurance companies and intermediaries, including those not active on the Comparators’ websites, at their respective request, on fair and non- discriminatory

In the ICA’s view, the set of commitments proposed by the Parties was adequate to remove its initial concerns. The ICA therefore made the commitments binding on all the Parties.

In particular, according to the ICA, the commitment that prevents the Comparators from sharing information that identifies the quotations, or the users who requested them, reduces the risk that the Insurance Companies may become aware of the pricing criteria applied by their competitors. The aggregation and anonymization of offers will prevent the identification, by the recipients of the reports, both of the best price (as well as the second and third best prices, as applicable) and of the worst price, as well as of the identity of the company that proposed them.

[1]      ICA, Decision of May 10, 2022, No. 30150, Case I856 – Comparatori di prezzo/scambio di informazioni polizze RCA.

[2]      ICA, Decision of May 11, 2021, No. 29658.