Irish regulator concludes motor insurance investigation

Six motor insurance companies will introduce or enhance their competition law compliance programmes after being investigated for anti-competitive practices.

The investigation was carried out by Irish regulator Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.

AIG Europe, Allianz, AXA Insurance, Aviva Insurance Ireland, FBD Insurance and AA Ireland all deny any breaches, but each has made legal commitments to provide mechanisms for internal monitoring and whistleblowing, independent oversight and regular competition law training.

Brian McHugh, member of the Commission with responsibility for competition enforcement and mergers, said: “Businesses are required to set their prices independently. Any form of pricing statements and suspected coordination that could manipulate future pricing raise serious concerns under competition law, as this can impact on competition and ultimately the price consumers pay. The potential for consumer harm is particularly high in the motor insurance market as consumers cannot avoid taking out a policy if they are to drive legally.

“We issued preliminary findings to seven parties in September 2020, alleging that these organisations had engaged in anti-competitive cooperation over a 21-month period during 2015 and 2016. All of the parties denied that they were in breach of competition law and pointed to their existing compliance programmes and measures. However, the existence of a compliance program is of little value unless, when tested, a business and all of its employees can demonstrate that compliance is an integral part of the culture and working practices of the company.

“Following constructive engagement with the CCPC, six parties have agreed to implement a number of compliance reforms across their companies to prevent breaches of competition law and which will support whistle-blowers who may come forward.”

A seventh company, Brokers Ireland, has not agreed to the terms.