The European insurance federation says without BER availability, pricing and choice would suffer

The European insurance and reinsurance federation (CEA) said the current insurance Block Exemption Regulation (BER) should be renewed beyond its current 2010 deadline.

The BER allows under certain conditions, such as pools, for insurance companies to cooperate without infringing EU competition law. The regulation was last renewed in 2003 and runs until 2010.

The CEA’s arguments are set out in its response to the European Commission’s consultation on the BER, which ended July 17.

‘The BER helps insurers to generate efficiencies through legitimate cooperation,’ said Michaela Koller, director general of the CEA. ‘Without the legal certainty that the BER provides, there would likely be a significant drop in such cooperation, to the detriment of insurance buyers.’

The CEA insists that without the legal certainty provided by the BER the level of cooperation within the insurance market would probably decrease dramatically, thus depriving the EU economy, consumers and insurance undertakings of the benefits of such cooperation in terms of insurance availability, pricing and choice.

A number of operators and associations have sent clear signals that, if the BER were to cease, they would seriously consider abandoning business cooperation for fear that such cooperation might be challenged by the competition authorities, said the CEA.

‘The CEA calls on the Commission to secure the legal validity of the scope and conditions of the cooperation currently covered by the BER by renewing the existing BER beyond 2010,’ said Koller.