Competition and Consumer Protection Commission announces motor insurance probe

Summonses and information requests have been issued to insurance providers and industry representative bodies

Maeve McLaughlin
by Maeve McLaughlin on 15th September, 2016

Over the last number of months, there has been a lot of talk about the increase in motor insurance costs.

Even if you’re not directly impacted, it’s very likely you’ll have seen the media coverage and claims that some people’s premiums have doubled from year-to-year.

Now, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has announced that is investigating suspected breaches of competition law in the motor insurance sector - and has even issued summonses and information requests to major motor insurance providers and industry representative groups.

Basically, the CCPC suspects that there may be an issue in Ireland relating to members of the motor insurance industry ‘openly signalling up-coming increases’ in motor insurance premiums.

Isolde Goggin, Chairperson at the CCPC, has said that these kind of signals or statements could ‘result in a degree of unspoken coordination’, and this kind of coordination may breach competition law.

In particular, she said that statements by ‘senior industry players’ have raised serious suspicion as to whether there is a link between these messages and subsequent price increases.

The CCPC will use the summonses and information requests to gather evidence on this issue, and then they will establish whether or not there has been a breach of competition law.

In the meantime, the CCPC has said it will continue to monitor developments in the industry and, if necessary, will take action to stop specific anti-competitive practices in the motor insurance sector.

Reaction to the announcement has been positive, with many assuming it will spell the end of these kinds of price hikes.

However, with reserving requirements at a higher level than they have been in the past, it remains to be seen whether anti-competitive practices are hte only factor at play here - if at all.