Insurers agree to limit amount of data exchanged within industry

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Seven insurance companies and two IT software and service providers have provisionally agreed to limit the data they exchange between them after the Office of Fair Trading raised concerns over competition law.

Insurers Aviva, AXA, Liverpool Victoria, RBS Insurance, Royal Sun Alliance and Zurich and IT companies Experian and SSP have offered formal commitments to the OFT.

This follows an OFT investigation which identified an increased risk of price co-ordination among motor insurers using a specialist market analysis tool by Experian called Whatif? Private Motor.

The tool allowed insurers to access the pricing information they provided to brokers as well as pricing information supplied by competing insurers.

The OFT warned the firms that the data exchanged through this tool raised competition law concerns that it was not genuinely public information. The consumer and competition authority said while it would, in theory, be possible to replicate the information by obtaining individual quotes from insurers, this would be almost impossible in practice.

Clive Maxwell (left), the executive director at the OFT, said: "Active competition between firms drives better value for consumers, and anything that potentially dampens that is a cause for concern. The OFT treats possible breaches of competition law seriously, but we believe that formal commitments in this case would be a proportionate way of resolving concerns."

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