On 14 May 2019, the EU Commission (“the Commission“) announced that it has opened a formal antitrust investigation into Insurance Ireland, an association of insurance companies active in Ireland (“Investigation“). The association administers a database (Insurance Link), to which its member companies contribute insurance claims data on an ongoing basis. Insurance Ireland makes this database available to its members to facilitate the detection of potentially fraudulent behavior by insurance claimants. The opening of proceedings follows unannounced inspections in Ireland in July 2017.
Unlike in other cases where competitors have exchanged information, the Commission does not appear to be concerned about the data sharing as such. The Commission explicitly states that the data pooling in question probably contributes to effective competition and benefits consumers. Instead, the Commission wants to assess whether newcomers to the Irish insurance market were unfairly prevented from accessing the database and whether this might have had the effect of placing these companies at a competitive disadvantage visàvis those companies with access. If the Commission can substantiate these allegations during its investigation, it is likely to treat this as an infringement against Article 101 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU“).
Read the full briefing here.