INSURANCE IRELAND, THE body that represents the Irish insurance industry, has confirmed that it was the subject of an unannounced inspection today by EU officials.
The European Commission also raided the premises of motor insurance firms in the Republic as part of an investigation into alleged price-fixing. It was accompanied by officials from the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
In a statement, the European Commission said it is concerned the companies involved may have breached EU antitrust rules that “prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices and/or abuse of a dominant market position”.
Insurance Ireland confirmed in a separate statement that its premises were inspected by the European Commission as well.
“Insurance Ireland understands that the inspection at its premises relates to databases concerning claims history information and drivers’ penalty points,” it said.
“Insurance Ireland is co-operating fully with the European Commission and is confident its practices are fully compliant with competition law.”
Numerous politicians welcomed reports of the raids. Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty TD said it was positive news.
“I welcome news this morning of raids being carried out by competition enforcement officials investigating possible cartel behaviour,” the deputy said.
“This is good news for consumers that concerns I have voiced for some time about cartelism now are being taken seriously.”
Reacting to the news, Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath said the results of any investigations must be consumer-focused.
“The number-one priority of this investigation has to be to ensure that consumers are protected from any potential anti-competitive behaviour in the insurance industry,” he said.
Social Democrat councillor Anne-Marie McNally also welcomed news of the raids saying that motor insurance premium costs were becoming “an out-of-control situation”.
Asked about the reports in the Dáil today, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he had no information on the raids but was in no doubt that if sufficient evidence was found then action would be taken.
With reporting by Rónán Duffy and Conor McMahon.