Italy probes alleged cartel among automobile insurers

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A man wearing a protective face mask walks past an office belonging to the Japanese unit of Switzerland's Zurich Insurance Group in Tokyo, Japan May 5, 2020, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

MILAN, May 21 (Reuters) - Italy's anti-trust watchdog said on Friday it had opened an investigation into an alleged cartel among insurance companies and insurance price comparison companies to limit competition for automobile insurance.

In a statement, the Italian Competition Authority said the companies involved were able to charge consumers higher premiums for automobile insurance policies as a result of the insurers and price comparison companies regularly sharing reports, prepared by the price comparers, of "sensitive information" on the market for auto policies.

The probe involves, among others, Allianz Direct (ALVG.DE), Admiral Intermediary Services (ADML.L), Linear (UNPI.MI), Genertel (GASI.MI), Zurich (ZURN.S) and price comparison websites such as

The alleged cartel, the antitrust said, has been in place at least since 2012 and during the first lockdown to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

Zurich declined to comment. The other insurance companies were not immediately available for a comment. said it was cooperating with the regulator and was confident the investigation would confirm the legitimacy of its service.

Reporting by Maria Pia Quaglia, editing by Gianluca Semeraro

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