European insurers may be overcharging business customers, the European Commission said today in the preliminary findings of its investigation into the industry.

The Commission pointed out that insurers are reporting wide-ranging profit levels across the EU, a possible sign of pricing inequalities in some countries or competition issues between small to medium sized businesses and large companies.

It also highlighted possible conflicts of interest between insurers when they do not declare the fees received for advising clients from other insurers.

Although not due to be published in its finality until September, the Commission voiced concerns about possible collusion activity between insurers which would violate an antitrust exemption and possibly lead to cartel charges.

The Commission will hold a public hearing to discuss the results on 9 February.