Competition regulator to study public liability insurance sector.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), Ireland’s competition regulator, has commenced a study into the public liability insurance sector.

This development follows a request by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, using her powers under the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014. The CCPC will now prepare a ‘Terms of Reference’, which will establish the scope of their study.

The Minister has requested that the study “should examine how the market operates, how competition works in that market and whether any practice or method of competition affects the pricing levels of public liability insurance within the market.

The CCPC said that “rising premiums for public liability insurance have been blamed for the collapse of a number of businesses and community events“, though the regulator has advised that it is not investigating a breach of competition law in the public liability insurance market.

Once the Terms of Reference has been published, an extensive process of engagement with all relevant stakeholders will be undertaken. However, the CCPC has warned that it will be late 2020 at the earliest before it completes its study, citing internal capacity constraints. Resultantly, it will be some years before any potential enforcement actions are brought.

In recent years, the CCPC has also used these market study powers to investigate diverse markets, including the waste collection market and the residential mortgages market. Previous studies have resulted in sectoral reform and changes in the law, while others have led to further analysis and reports.

Competition investigators are also examining the Irish motor insurance sector, while the European Commission continues its investigation in relation to data pooling by Insurance Ireland.