TD described opposition to the fact that no legal action was taken by the competition regulator against the insurance industry after a five-year investigation as “extremely disappointing”.
The Competition and Consumer Commission (CCPC) said it had secured “legally binding obligations” from six insurers – AIG Europe, AXA Insurance, Allianz, Aviva Insurance, FBD and AA Ireland – to agree to independent oversight of competition compliance programmes.
By contrast, the CCPC has been critical of Brokers Ireland, which has 1,200 insurance and financial intermediaries as members, after it refused to abide by these obligations.
The CCCP said the refusal “calls into question the regulatory stance toward compliance”.
Sinn Féin Finance spokeswoman Pierce Doherty said the CCPC’s failure to sue the industry in any way was “deeply disappointing” and said “this is not the kind of oversight we need.”
“It is important to note that the CCPC does not take this any further,” Doherty said.
“What is he telling the top insurance executives that after five years they won’t take any action? They act like they don’t have the authority, that it’s about the courts, but the CCPC is the body that you take to the courts.”
The seven parties have denied any violations of competition law.
The Alliance for Insurance Reform said the fact that the investigation took five years makes its findings “hardly relevant”.
A CCPC spokesperson said the competition watchdog’s investigation began in 2016 after a number of statements from insurance industry professionals appeared to be “confidently expecting premiums to rise,” or referring to prices.
Price reference is when a company makes competitors realize that it intends to increase prices, thus encouraging its competitors to do the same.
New obligations secured from insurers include providing “internal oversight mechanisms” to detect compliance violations, annual reports to the CCPC to demonstrate compliance with new obligations, and protections for employees who may wish to act as whistleblowers.
A CCPC spokesperson said the commission was “in no way giving” the insurance industry a “clean health bill”.
She wrote to the central bank “to clarify the broader cultural concerns in the industry that came to light in the course of the investigation.”
“Spécialiste de la télévision sans vergogne. Pionnier des zombies inconditionnels. Résolveur de problèmes d’une humilité exaspérante.”