Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Finance, Michael McGrath TD has said that today’s announcement by the European Commission that it has launched a formal antitrust investigation into Insurance Ireland, is extremely serious.

Deputy McGrath said, “The European Commission has been examining this issue for quite some time. As far back as July 2017, the European Commission and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission carried out inspections in the Irish motor insurance market. Today’s announcement is a significant step and could have considerable implications for the Irish insurance market.

“The Commission’s investigation centres around the accessibility of certain databases by companies wishing to enter the Irish motor insurance market. These data pools are currently available to Insurance Ireland members. The Commission is investigating whether depriving potential entrants of this data is unfairly preventing them from accessing the Irish market.

“If this investigation finds that Insurance Ireland are acting in an anticompetitive manner and breaking EU rules, the implications could be very serious. It is not acceptable that potential entrants are prevented from entering the Irish market on a level playing field. We need more players offering consumers more options and if this were to happen I believe premiums would reduce.

“The National Claims Information Database is way behind schedule and there is no sign of it being established anytime soon. By having more data published by the State, we will be ensuring that companies do not have to go to Insurance Ireland for a clearer picture of the market.

“We should be doing everything we can to break down the barriers for potential entrants. “The issues in the insurance market in Ireland have been left to linger for far without action and the Government has yet to act to bring down the cost of claims.

“Fianna Fáil has been to the fore in this Dáil demanding insurance reform. Our first private members’ motion in this Dáil in June 2016 led to the establishment of the Cost of Insurance Working Group. We have dedicated a considerable amount of our Dáil time to push for insurance reform. We have been in direct contact with the European Commission and the CCPC seeking updates and information regarding the preliminary investigation they had been doing.

“At a European level, I believe far more needs to be done to create an effective single European market for insurance. We have seen how the collapse of certain insurance firms regulated elsewhere in Europe has caused massive hardship for some Irish consumers. We will await the outcome of this investigation but in the meantime the Government could be doing a lot more to tackle the underlying issues in the insurance market”, concluded McGrath.