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28th September 2012

Consumer Council wants to ensure NI motorists feature in Competition Commission OFT referral

The Consumer Council has welcomed the news that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is to refer the private motor insurance market in the UK to the Competition Commission and wants to ensure that the voice of Northern Ireland’s motorists is heard in the process.

According to the CEO of the Consumer Council, Antoinette McKeown, this has the potential to affect positive change for motorists in Northern Ireland so it is essential that the experiences of Northern Irish motorists feature in the work done by the Competition Commission.

“The Consumer Council has had long-standing concerns with the cost of car insurance and certain features of the car insurance market in NI. We asked the OFT to look at car insurance in August 2011. The OFT investigation was bolstered by the 5000 consumers who signed our petition over a  40 day period and the 1500 consumers that contacted us to tell us their story.”

“The initial OFT Report found that NI motorists pay 11 per cent more in NI rising to between 30 and 70 percent in rural areas. The report also showed that we don’t shop around for our car insurance as well as others in the rest of the UK and that legal and compensation costs were pushing up car insurance premiums here also. As a result of their findings published Dec 2011, the OFT launched a further investigation into third party costs.”

“The OFT published a report on third-party costs on Thursday 31 May 2012. This report found that third party non injury costs may account for 20% of total claims costs.  The May 2012 report stated OFTs proposal to make a market investigation reference to the Competition Commission and we wrote to the OFT to support this next step.”

“Now that the OFT has actually referred this issue to the Competition Commission we will continue to engage with the OFT and the Competition Commission to ensure that the voice of Northern Irish motorists is heard. If the Competition Commission finds that features of a market are harming competition, it has powers to impose remedies to address the situation, so their decision could potentially affect every motorist in Northern Ireland.”

 “The Consumer Council will also continue to work with local MLAs and MPs to ensure that the cost of car insurance remains high on the agenda.”

ENDS

  1. Consumer Council media contact: Suzanne Collins, telephone, 028 90674807/07799032203  or email, [email protected]  
  2. The Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland’s consumers. The Council campaigns for high standards of service and protection and a fair deal for all. It also carries out research, gives advice and publishes reports and other publications. It deals with individual complaints about buses, trains, planes, ferries, natural gas, electricity, coal and water.
  3. For more information, visit our website at www.consumercouncil.org.uk
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