Yesterday morning’s raids on insurance companies were inevitable. Insurance costs are increasing at a rate far beyond inflation and have become a significant burden.
Even if the compensation awards made by our courts are a significant factor the figures involved are so eye-watering that regulatory intervention was unavoidable.
Indeed, the real question is why did it take so very long?
Agents from the European Competition Directorate and the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) raided offices of motor insurance providers because of concerns that a cartel might be in operation.
The Commission has “concerns that the companies involved may have engaged in anti-competitive practices in breach of EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices and or abuse of a dominant market position”.
These companies are, of course, innocent until proven otherwise but should it transpire a cartel is in operation it is hard to imagine too many people would be shocked.
The record of the financial sector has, after all, prepared us for such a disheartening possibility.
Though it may be tempting to imagine these events as a blow for consumer rights it’s probably best to keep the champagne on ice — especially in a country where financial wrongdoing has so few consequences as the silence around the bank staff who criminally misled people over tracker mortgages confirms.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved