Motor insurance providers raided over alleged cartel activity
A number of Insurance companies, insurance brokers and other representative bodies of the insurance industry were raided yesterday morning as part of a probe into alleged price fixing in the motor insurance industry within Ireland
It is understood that 45 officers from the State’s competition watchdog, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) and the European Competition Directorate raided the main motor insurance providers premises in an ongoing probe into alleged cartel activity within the insurance industry.
Also raided in the CCPC search for documentary evidence was the representative body for the industry, Insurance Ireland who are the main voice of insurance in the State, allegedly promoting the highest standards of the industry. Insurance Ireland represents 95% of the domestic market and more than 80% of Ireland's international life insurance market in Ireland.
The investigation into the insurance industry by the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) was initiated at the end of last year. As a part of their investigation, the CCPC issued witness summonses and information requests to major motor insurance providers and industry groups representing insurers and brokers.
The investigation relates to industry participants openly signalling up-coming increases in motor insurance premiums in the State and the raids are a major escalation of the investigation by the CCPC.
The CCPC were also backed up by the European Competition Directorate as they are concerned that the single market for insurance operates without any hindrance.
Politicians and consumer groups have been calling for a probe and investigation into the insurance industry prices after the cost of motor premiums shot up by almost 60 per cent in the past three years, with some drivers being hit with even higher rises.
CCPC chairperson, Isolde Goggin said back in September that it wanted to ensure there was no breach of competition law within the insurance sector. She said the CCPC had been engaging with consumers who have been telling them that the ridiculous rise in motor insurance premiums has had a significant impact on them.
As a result, the CCPC is now taking definitive action to stop these specific anti-competitive practices from occurring in the motor insurance sector.
Pearse Doherty TD, who is the Sinn Féin spokesman has welcomed the raids by the Competition Commission but said they have come too late in the day. He went on to say:
“I welcome news this morning of raids being carried out by Competition Enforcement officials investigating possible cartel behaviour. This is good news for consumers that concerns I have voiced for some time about cartelism now are being taken seriously.
“The dramatic spikes in insurance prices across the board, and the fact that the Central Bank has accused the insurers of providing false information to it, point to sound grounds for investigation.
“The industry has been warned before about price signalling. The news this morning will offer hope to drivers and others reliant on insurance that there is some protection for them even if it is coming very late in the day.”
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