(Adds Commissioner, Insurance Ireland comment, details)
By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS, May 14 (Reuters) - European Union regulators opened an antitrust investigation into the conditions set by Insurance Ireland for companies seeking to access its data pooling system, saying these may restrict choice for motorists in particular.
Insurance Ireland represents 95 percent of the domestic market and more than 80 percent of Ireland’s international life insurance market in the country.
It has about 130 members contributing insurance claims data to its InsuranceLink database. Access to the database, open to both members and non-members, allows insurers to offer better prices and services to consumers.
However, the European Commission said its investigation will examine whether the access conditions put some companies at a competitive disadvantage.
“We are investigating whether companies wishing to offer their services on the Irish motor insurance market may have been unfairly prevented from accessing a data pool managed by Insurance Ireland for its member companies,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.
“This could potentially reduce Irish drivers’ choice of motor insurance policies at competitive prices.”
The EU antitrust enforcer said some elements of the data pooling system such as that which enables market operators to become aware of rivals’ market strategies, may curb competition.
Insurance Ireland said it was cooperating with the Commission and was confident that its practices comply with competition laws.
The Commission can order companies and associations to stop anti-competitive behaviour and also levy fines. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Philip Blenkinsop/Keith Weir)