BUSINESS COMPANIES ECONOMY

Competition Council slaps EUR 53 ml worth of fines on nine insurers, trade association UNSAR

The Competition Council handed down fines worth a total of 246.74 million lei (approximately 53 million euro) to nine insurers and the National Union of Romania’s Insurers and Reinsurers (UNSAR) for having coordinated their market behavior in order to trigger the increase of RCA mandatory civil liability insurance fees.

“Following the conducted investigation, the competition authority found that insurers Allianz – Tiriac Asigurari SA, Asigurarea Romaneasca – Asirom Vienna Insurance Group SA, Asigurare-Reasigurare Astra Asigurari SA, Carpatica Asig SA, Euroins Romania Asigurare-Reasigurare SA, Generali Romania Asigurare Reasigurare, Groupama Asigurari SA, Omniasig Vienna Insurance Group SA and Uniqa Asigurari SA exchanged commercially sensitive information regarding their intentions to increase RCA tariffs. This concerted practice, facilitated by UNSAR, resulted in the narrowing of competition on the RCA insurance market between October 2012 – November 2016, as insurance companies no longer established their fees independently, but took concerted action on the market, taking into account the discussions inside the association to increase their fees,” the Competition Council said in a statement on Tuesday.

The penalties applied are as follows: Allianz – Tiriac Asigurari (43.44 million lei), Omniasig Vienna Insurance Group SA (40.53 million lei), Asigurarea Romaneasca – Asirom Vienna Insurance Group SA (36.97 million lei), Groupama Asigurari SA (35.38 million lei), Asigurare-Reasigurare Astra Asigurari SA (22.04 million lei), Carpatica Asig SA (26.86 million lei), Generali Romania Asigurare Reasigurare SA (21.45 million lei), Uniqa Asigurari SA (13.57 million lei), Euroins Romania Asigurare Reasigurare (6.35 million lei) and UNSAR (160,436 lei).

According to the competition watchdog, in the course of the investigation, Euroins fully acknowledged the anticompetitive act and provided under the leniency procedure a series of documents and information that significantly contributed to the investigation evidence; therefore, the said insurer was offered a reduction of the fine. In the case of companies Astra and Carpatica, the Competition Council considered a shorter period of law violation, until the Financial Supervisory Authority withdrew their business license.

“Associations have an important role and it is legitimate for their members to meet and discuss various topics, but this must not amount to exchanging commercially sensitive information, such as current or future prices. Such exchanges of sensitive information reduce uncertainty about the competitors’ strategies and favor the coordination of market behavior by eliminating competition. In a competitive market, companies must vie to provide quality services under advantageous terms, with each outlining its tariff policy independently, according to its own strategy and the structure of the costs incurred by its specific activity,” said Competition Council president Bogdan Chiritoiu.

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