The European Commission has charged Insurance Ireland with breaking competition rules over its operation of the Insurance Link data-sharing system.
After an initial investigation, the commission said that its preliminary view was that the insurance group had restricted competition in the Irish motor-insurance market.
Insurance Ireland, whose membership included companies accounting for 90% of the market, administers Insurance Link, but the commission takes issue with certain conditions of access to the platform.
It believes that the insurers’ group “arbitrarily delayed or de facto denied access to the system to companies that had a legitimate interest in joining it”.
The commission also says that “hurdles remain in place” that might affect companies seeking to enter the Irish motor insurance market.
The commission says access to Insurance Link has been linked to membership of the association, requiring applicants to go through what it describes as “an unpredictable” application process. This delayed some companies’ access for several years, according to the commission.
“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,” said Margrethe Vestager (pictured), the commissioner in charge of competition policy.
“This prevented competitive entry of new players and thus reduced Irish drivers' choice of motor insurance policies at competitive prices,” she added.
Insurance group responds
The commission has sent Insurance Ireland a formal ‘statement of objections’, setting out how it believes EU rules were breached.
In a statement, Insurance Ireland said it would respond to the commission over the coming weeks, adding that it was important to note that the statement of objections was not the final decision.
The group said that it had cooperated with the investigation over the past four years and would continue to do so.
“We will now assess the points set out by the European Commission and we are confident that we can allay the European Commission’s perceived concerns,” it said.