“The insurance market in Ireland must be open to free and fair competition with new entrants able to compete in the Irish market on a level playing field with existing market players,” according to Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Finance Michael McGrath TD.

Deputy McGrath comment, “Last week, it was reported on RTÉ that the investigation by the European Commission into motor insurance in Ireland is focusing on allegations that the industry has created obstacles for new players to enter the Irish market. This is deeply troubling given the massive insurance premium hikes Irish consumers have faced in recent times.

“It appears to be the case that Insurance Ireland – the representative body of the existing insurers in the market – controls two key databases called ‘Insurance Link’ and ‘Integrated Information Data Service’ (IIDS) which contain information on, for example, claims history, no-claims discounts and penalty points. The information provided on the shared members’ IIDS database is facilitated by an arrangement with the Department of Transport.

“It seems self-evident to me that an insurance firm seeking to enter the Irish market without full access to these databases is at a significant competitive disadvantage. In such a scenario, it is operating blind. It is also deeply concerning that, in order to become a member of Insurance Ireland, a new entrant must be nominated by an existing member. These databases should not be controlled by the industry which has a vested interest in insulating those already in the market from further competition.

“In recent years, we know all about the consequences of a dysfunctional insurance market. Motorists, businesses, charities, schools, and sporting and community groups all end up paying more for insurance. The cost of insurance has now become a major issue across our economy.

“In a Dáil reply to me, the Minister for Finance has acknowledged there are, in relation to access to the IIDS database, some ‘membership criteria for new entrants’ and ‘this is something I have no control over’. The Minister needs to do better than this. Irish consumers shouldn’t have to wait for a European Commission investigation to create a level playing field in the Irish insurance market,” concluded McGrath.