On July 28, 2000 the Italian antitrust Authority Issued a decision stating that some Italian insurance companies, representing more than 80% of the relevant market, infringed sec. 2 of the Italian antitrust act (I. n.287/90), which prohibits anti-competitive agreements, by exchanging information on their tariffs in the car drivers' liability insurance field.
The insurance companies communicated their commercial premiums to an independent company, which periodically issued CD-ROMs including the tariffs of all the companies involved, and a specific software which enabled the user to compare the premiums.
According to the Authority, such an exchange of information amounted to a concerted practice, which had the ultimate effect of facilitating the companies raising their commercial premiums. The exchange of information had lead to a parallelism in the competitive behaviour of the underwriters, with reference to commercial premiums, which was not justified by the structure or by the situation of the market.
The insurance companies argued, inter alia that the exchanged data were not "sensitive" under a competitive point of view since the guidelines of the Authority charged of the control over to private insurance companies(ISVAP) provide that in the field of car drivers' liability insurance the tariffs must be made available to the public at least sixty days before their entry into force.
Moreover, according to the defendants, the investigation of the Authority had reached no evidence either of the asserted behavioural parallelism, nor that the exchange of information between competitors had any affect on the level of the premiums.
The Authority imposed to the insurance companies a record fine of more than seven hundred billion Italian lire.
The insurance companies announced to the media that they will file an appeal before the Administrative Regional Tribunal (TAR) of Lazio.
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