The Competition Authority has imposed interim measures on four motor insurers after finding that their Quality Vehicle Repair Scheme (QVR) is breaching competition rules.
Investigations are continuing.
A number of car repair garages had complained to the Authority after it was announced that insurers would only use QVR certified repairers to undertake insurance-funded accident repairs.
The insurers had said that QVR was aimed at raising the standards of vehicle repairs in
order to ensure that repairs were carried out efficiently, according to the standards
and methods laid down by the vehicle’s manufacturer and without compromising
the vehicle’s safety features.
The Authority said it considered the behaviour of Atlas Insurance PCC Limited, Mapre Middlesea plc, GasanMamo Insurance Limited and Elmo Insurance Ltd as a prima facie infringement of the Competition Act.
The Authority said the insurers deliberately coordinating their conduct to collude in a number of ways by disparaging non-QVR repairers; jointly introducing a star rating mechanism; applying a different payment system between claimants who choose to repair their vehicle at a QVR garage and those claimants who choose to repair their vehicle at a non-QVR garage; applying discriminatory conduct and exchanging completely sensitive and strategic information on their future market conduct.
“Even if there was no other form of collusion, the exchange of information between the four insurers resulted in an anticompetitive conduct, constituting an independent infringement of competition law in itself.”
The insurers were ordered to cease from making a distinction on the method of payment of repair bills, between claimants who choose a QVR repairer and claimants who choose a non-QVR repairer; and to stop circulating any leaflets or adverts of any type which disparage the non-QVR approved garages.
They were told to write to those policyholders who submitted a claim, since February 2017 onwards, informing them that no distinction in payment shall be made between those claimants who choose a QVR repairer and those who do not choose a QVR repairer and to issue a notice on their websites stating that no distinction in payment shall be made.
The measures aim are aimed at protecting the chances of non-QVR garages to remain in the market.
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