The European Commission has said it believes Insurance Ireland is in breach of EU competition rules.
EU regulators today published their preliminary findings after a two-year investigation into Insurance Ireland’s alleged restriction of access to a key database.
It said the insurance body has been blocking companies from accessing a data-sharing system called the Insurance Link platform.
Insurance Ireland represents 90% of Ireland’s insurance companies and EU regulators say it “arbitrarily delayed or de facto denied” non-members access to the system.
They say this prevented new companies from entering the market and reduced the choices on offer to Irish drivers, thus affecting motor insurance prices.
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: “Motor insurance is a significant cost in the budget of every family and business.”
“Access to data is key for insurers to evaluate the risk they take and to offer competitive contract conditions to customers,” she said,
“We have concerns that certain insurers and their agents were put at a competitive disadvantage because Insurance Ireland denied or delayed access to its data sharing system, compiling valuable information on insurance claims.
“This prevented competitive entry of new players and thus reduced Irish drivers' choice of motor insurance policies at competitive prices.
“Non-discriminatory access to data sharing systems is important to foster competition in markets relying on data.”
The regulator said access to the database has been linked to Insurance Ireland membership since as far back as 2009.
As a result, it said, companies that want access have to “meet membership criteria and go through an unpredictable application process.”
It said certain types of insurers and their agents were effectively denied access to the database for several year.
Insurance Ireland said it will assess the points set out by the European Commission and is confident it can allay the regulators “perceived concerns.”
Main image is a composite of traffic in Dublin and Eu Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.