The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is to launch an investigation into the UK’s motor insurance industry and in particular, the market in Northern Ireland to see any competition or consumer issues can be addressed to make improvements to how the industry functions.
The action is in the wake of reports that private motor insurance premiums had risen by 40 per cent in the year to the end of March 2011, resulting in the Office of Fair Trading issuing a ‘call for evidence’.
They claim that during their investigation, they want to scrutinise reports that car insurance in Northern Ireland is notably higher in comparison to the rest of the UK and try to discover and understand the reasons behind this difference.
The Office of Fair Trading is welcoming the views of insurance companies and other people involved in the industry on the aspects of the market and issues for competition and the consumer. They are interested to hear about the impact and role of comparison websites, the use of panels of approved repairers, the provision of credit hire replacement vehicles and the retailing of supplementary products by insurance companies.
A statement from the OFT read, “As part of its work, the OFT is interested in examining reports that car insurance premiums in Northern Ireland are significantly higher than they are in the rest of the UK and understanding the reasons for any difference.”
In August 2011, the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland instigated a plan to try to reduce the cost of car insurance throughout the province. As part of this campaign, the Council made a formal submission to the Office of Fair Trading asking them if they would examine the market in Northern Ireland.