Private motor insurance: exchange of data

Office of Fair Trading (OFT) closed Competition Act 1998 case.

Case information

Case reference: CE/9388/10

The OFT has accepted formal commitments from six insurance companies and two IT software and service providers to limit the data they exchange between them.

Having accepted the commitments, the OFT has ended its investigation and will not be proceeding to a decision on whether or not the Competition Act has been infringed.

Summary of work

The formal offer of commitments came from insurers Ageas Insurance Ltd (formally Fortis Insurance Ltd), Aviva Insurance UK Ltd, AXA Insurance UK plc, Liverpool Victoria Insurance Company Ltd, RBS Insurance Group Ltd, and Zurich Insurance plc – UK Branch; and IT software and service providers Experian Ltd and SSP Ltd, and followed an OFT investigation into the exchange of broker pricing information between insurers in the private motor sector.

The OFT investigation identified an increased risk of price coordination among motor insurers using a specialist market analysis tool provided by Experian called WhatIf? Private Motor.

The OFT warned the firms that, because insurers were able to access information about their competitors’ future pricing intentions, the information exchanged through WhatIf? Private Motor raised competition law concerns that it could potentially be used to coordinate on price.

The accepted commitments address the OFT’s concerns by ensuring that the companies will exchange pricing information through the analysis tool only if that information meets certain principles agreed with the OFT. These principles require the information, if less than six months old, to be anonymised, aggregated across at least five insurers and already 'live' in broker-sold policies.

It is proposed that these commitments will remain in force for five years. It should also be noted, where the OFT has accepted binding commitments it may for the purpose of addressing its current competition concerns, accept a variation of or substitution for the commitments.

Published 2 December 2011