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Buyers respond to E.C. competition inquiry


BRUSSELS—Cooperation between insurers can both help and hinder corporate insurance buyers, a buyer representative told a public hearing on the European Commission's inquiry into the sector.

Ralf Oelssner, chairman of the German insurance buyers association, Deutscher Versicherungs-Schutzverband e.V., and director of corporate insurance for German airline Lufthansa, said that whether horizontal cooperation between insurers has profited buyers or not is "not black or white".

In some instances, for example the existence of standard policy wordings, coopertaion can help insurance buyers as they enable insurers to offer certain cover, he said. But in other cases standard policy wordings have contributed to the number of exclusions for risks such as asbestos and terrorism, he added.

During a panel discussion at the hearing Gerard de la Martiniere, president of the French insurers' association, the Federation Francaise des Societes d'Assurances, said that insurers would argue vigorously for the continuation of the insurance industry block exemption from certain European competition rules.

He said insurers believed that the exemption benefited both underwriters and buyers as it helps keep administration costs down which ultimately reduces the price of insurance for the buyer.