On May 14, 2019, the Commission announced the opening of an investigation into Insurance Ireland, an industry association of Irish insurers that includes Allianz, Hertz, Liberty, AIG, and AXA. Insurance Ireland is suspected of impeding prospective members’ access to its “Insurance Link” data pool.[1]

Insurance Ireland’s members share claims data through Insurance Link to combat fraud and verify the accuracy of information provided by potential policyholders. Irish competition and data protection authorities had already intervened in the motor insurance market in 2016, where certain insurers, including Allianz and AXA, undertook to ensure that insurance companies using a data sharing software platform could not access competitors’ pricing information.[2] In July 2017, the Commission raided several Irish vehicle insurers over suspected infringements of Articles 101 and/or 102 TFEU.[3] It is unclear whether these raids prompted the current investigation.

The Commission’s press release explains that it is not questioning that data pooling arrangements can foster competition and directly benefit consumers, e.g., by ensuring more suitable products and competitive prices. The Commission is nevertheless concerned that the terms and conditions of access to Insurance Link may place nonaffiliated insurers at a competitive disadvantage on the Irish motor insurance market compared to affiliated insurers. If proven, these practices could breach Article 101 TFEU. The Commission’s investigation, which will be carried out “as a matter of priority,” is another example— like the Bundeskartellamt’s Facebook decision and the Commission’s ongoing investigation into Amazon Marketplace—of increasing antitrust scrutiny of data access rules.

[1]      Commission Press Release IP/19/2509, “Antitrust: Commission opens investigation into Insurance Ireland data pooling system,” May 14, 2019.

[2]      Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, Relay Investigation, https://www.ccpc.ie/business/enforcement/civil-competition-enforcement/closed- investigations/relay-investigation/. (last visited May 19, 2019.)

[3]      Commission Statement STATEMENT/17/1910, “Antitrust: Commission confirms unannounced inspections in the motor insurance market in Ireland,” July 4, 2017.