Motor insurers avoid fines as OFT investigates data exchange

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Seven of the largest insurance companies and two IT software and service providers have avoided fines and agreed to limit the data that they exchange between them following an investigation by the OFT into the anti-competitive use of Experian's market analysis tool, What If? Private Motor.

Ageas Insurance Limited (formally Fortis Insurance Ltd), Aviva plc, AXA Insurance UK plc, Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society, RBS Insurance Group Limited, Royal Sun Alliance and Zurich Insurance plc and the software and service providers Experian Ltd and SSP Limited have all offered formal commitments to the OFT.

The OFT received information back in June 2009 that there may be a breach of the Chapter I prohibition of the Competition Act 1998 and/or Article 101 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union.

The OFT investigation identified an increased risk of price coordination among motor insurers using the specialist tool, which allows insurers to access both their own pricing information and other insurers' pricing information for all the possible combinations of risks. The tool provides information to participating insurers two to three weeks in advance of quotation prices going 'live' in insurance policies sold by brokers. For example, prices for policies whose cover commences on 1 March would be provided to insurers through the tool weeks earlier in February.

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