EU Irish car insurance probe eyes closure

By Geoff Percival

An EU probe into alleged anti-competitive practices in the Irish car insurance market is expected to conclude by the end of the year.

The European Commission opened the investigation last year after allegations of obstacles being created to hinder entry to the market for new players. It carried out dawn raids on a number of company offices, including that of representative body Insurance Ireland.

Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes said he expects the probe to conclude by the end of the year, having spoken with competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

“Commissioner Vestager made it very clear to me that the commission is devoting significant resources to the investigation of anti-competitive practices in the Irish car insurance market,” said Mr Hayes.

“There is no clear date for a conclusion of the investigation but I believe the commission should aim to complete the investigation by the end of the year. Irish consumers have faced hefty car insurance premiums for many years — between 2013 and 2016, average motor insurance premiums in Ireland rose by 70%. This is totally out of sync with the Irish growth rates and inflation rates.

“There is still a lack of detail as to why premiums rose so significantly in recent years. We need answers from competition authorities if there were anti-competitive practices in place to the detriment of consumers. Trust has been broken between consumers and insurance companies in recent years and we need to repair that through more transparency and clearer rules on competition.”

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