IVASS has launched a public consultation on a draft regulation laying down provisions on the use of external experts for the purpose of mystery shopping activities, ie activity carried out incognito by or on behalf of IVASS to an externally appointed person, in connection with and to support the exercise of supervisory functions aimed at the purchase or completion of acts in preparation for the purchase of insurance products and services, including through online/telematic channels. The draft regulation regulates the way in which IVASS can use external parties to carry out mystery shopping activities, the requirements for these external parties and their tasks.
On March 16, 2022, IVASS launched a public consultation on a draft regulation setting out provisions on the use of external designated persons for mystery shopping activities to protect consumers (the “draft regulation”), with the aim of implementing, for the insurance sector, article 144-bis of Legislative Decree no. 206 of September 6, 2005 (Italian Consumer Code), which provides that – in relation to violations of the collective interests of consumers, excluded from the application are subject to Regulation (EU) 2017/2394 of the European Parliament and of the Council of December 12, 2017 (the “CPC regulation’) – national competent authorities can exercise the same investigative and enforcement powers as in Article 9 of the CPC Regulation – including mystery shopping powers – with the possibility to use specially appointed persons to collect data, reports and information accordingly collect with the powers and modalities set out in their respective regulations.
The activity of mystery shopping is defined as “the activities carried out incognito by or on behalf of IVASS to an external agent in connection with and in support of the exercise of supervisory functions aimed at the purchase or the performance of acts preparatory to the purchase of insurance products and services , including via online/telematic channels”.
- scope: The provisions of the draft regulation would apply to: (i) Italian insurance companies, (ii) EU insurance companies operating in Italy under the right of establishment or freedom to provide services, (iii) Italian branches of insurance companies having their registered office in a third country, (iv) Italian insurance intermediaries and EU insurance intermediaries enrolled in the list attached to the Register of Insurance Intermediaries maintained by IVASS, and (v) persons, entities and entities performing, in whatever form, the functions partially contained therein exercise the operating cycle of insurance companies limited to insurance profiles.
- Modalities for carrying out mystery shopping activities: According to the draft regulation, when appointing an external person obliged to carry out mystery shopping activities, IVASS determines the purpose, the objective and the subjective extent to which the external person should carry out his tasks. The external representative and the mystery shopper working for him are also subject to professional secrecy, even after the end of the assignment.
- Requirements and duties of the externally commissioned person: In order to guarantee the quality and reliability of the mystery shopping activities, the externally commissioned person must meet certain requirements in terms of professionalism (ie specific skills in the specific industry and with their own organizational structure) and independence. In particular, the appointed shopper must not be associated, directly or indirectly, with the persons involved in the investigation or the group to which they belong. The external person under the direction of IVASS, to which it makes all information available, would be obliged to carry out the task entrusted to it, ensuring appropriate standards of quality and confidentiality and professional secrecy, also through its own employees and collaborators.
The public consultation on the draft regulation runs until April 15, 2022.