European Commission investigating access to Irish car insurance market

An insurance lobby group is being investigated by the European Commission over allegations that it withheld

membership from underwriters entering the Irish insurance market.

The European Commission investigation into motor insurance in Ireland is looking at allegations that Insurance Ireland has created obstacles for new insurance firms to enter the Irish market, according to RTE.

It follows document seizures last year by European Commission investigators Insurance Ireland in the IFSC in Dublin.

Insurance Ireland has insists it is fully compliant with competition law.

However, investigators are examining an application form used by firms wishing to join Insurance Ireland which requires an existing member to sponsor the applicant.

The form is said to ask applicants to give the "Name of the firm(s) sponsoring the application".

Insurance Ireland has databases giving members access to information on penalty points, driver licences and claims history.

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has responded to the news by demanding "real transparency" within the industry.

Peter Boland, spokesperson for the Alliance for Insurance Reform, said: "These latest allegations regarding restricted access to the Irish insurance market are shocking but not surprising. Our members have suspected as much and have been paying the price for years.

"It is remarkable that such a valuable market, worth over €2bn, is controlled by so few underwriters with 90% of the motor insurance market controlled by 6 companies and 80% of business insurance controlled by 6 also.

Today's reports further highlight the urgent need for transparency in this market.

"We fully understand why insurers would prefer to operate under a cloak of secrecy but this industry is too important to Irish society and has too many mandatory elements to it, to be allowed continue to operate in this cavalier fashion.

"Equally, the Central Bank, which is supposed to be supervising the insurers on behalf of consumers, is actually doing the opposite, having abolished the only data that offered some insight into the industry, the so-called 'Blue Book' so that there is now no useable data available on the industry."

Mr Boland called minister Michael Darcy, to protect the new National Claims Information Database "from the influence of vested interests".

He said: "We demand that control of analysis and reporting of the National Claims Information Database be given to the neutral Personal Injuries Assessment Board rather than the Central Bank, which is now hopelessly compromised.

"And finally, we insist that the Blue Book be immediately reinstated and enhanced to restore the only transparency there previously was in the market before the Central Bank discontinued it in 2016."

- Digital Desk

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