Belfast Telegraph

Motor insurance firms told to limit shared data

Seven motor insurers have agreed to limit the amount of data they share with each other after the trading watchdog warned their actions could reduce competition in the market.

The insurers, including industry giants such as Aviva and Axa Insurance, had been exchanging details on prices through a market analysis tool known as Whatif? Private Motor.

The tool, which was run by Experian, provided brokers with details on insurance premiums, including any price hikes that insurers were introducing which had not yet gone live.

But it was also possible for insurers who contributed to the tool to use it to gain information on their competitors' pricing policies, including their underwriting practices and which areas of the market they were particularly competitive in.

It also enabled them to monitor premium increases being made by other firms before the information was in the public domain.

The issue came to light after RSA, which used the tool, became concerned that it may breach competition rules and notified the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

The OFT said that the tool increased the risk of price fixing among insurers and raised competition law concerns, although it added that its use did not constitute a secret cartel.

In response to the investigation by the OFT, the insurers and IT software providers, which also included Ageas Insurance, Liverpool Victoria, RBS Insurance and Zurich Insurance, and IT group SSP, have agreed that they will no longer be able to access each other's individual pricing information through Whatif?