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Reform Support

Supporting reforms to develop well-regulated, stable and competitive financial markets

Strengthening market conduct supervision in the insurance sector in Italy

The Commission supported the Italian Insurance Supervisory Authority (IVASS) in further enhancing its market conduct supervision by developing, testing and integrating a new mystery-shopping tool in its supervisory methodology. The latter enriches the instruments available for insurance conduct of business supervision in Italy, and it will help the IVASS to plan and execute future digital and physical mystery-shopping campaigns.


In recent years, EU legislation has sought to strengthen standards of market conduct in the insurance sector to better protect consumers and to extend the range of supervisory tools that national competent authorities can use to tackle emerging customer risks. Providers now have greater opportunities to investigate the sales processes and the actual market conduct of operators, carrying out incognito “on-site” inspections commonly referred to as mystery shopping campaigns. IVASS requested  technical support to design and develop its own mystery-shopping tool, given its need to widen its conduct of business supervisory approaches aimed at identifying market practices that potentially have negative consequences for consumers.

Support delivered

The project was implemented between June 2020 and July 2021. At the beginning, activities focused on the development of a mystery shopping methodology tailored to IVASS needs. To this end, IVASS, EIOPA and private partners worked together following a co-creative approach to develop and test several possible mystery shopping scenarios. The methodology was further fine-tuned through the execution of a wider mystery shopping campaign by experts, which enabled to test three different mystery-shopping scenarios. The lessons learned during this pilot exercise helped to further adapt the methodology, which was later formalized into an operative Mystery Shopping Manual. This was presented during a final interactive workshop open to IVASS conduct of business supervisory staff, who had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the methodology and participate in specific exercises.

Results achieved

The Mystery Shopping Manual delivered to IVASS will be the cornerstone for planning, executing and managing future mystery-shopping campaigns in Italy, allowing the supervisory authority to embed this new approach in its wider supervisory “toolbox”. The project allows IVASS staff to get familiarised with the mystery shopping methodology through the launch of a real mystery shopping campaign, using different scenario and sub-scenario scripts.