Motor insurance rip-off: now price 'cartel' probed
The major insurance companies are finally being investigated over claims they are acting together to increase prices.
The insurers have been summoned to give evidence to the State's competition watchdog over suspected breaches of competition law.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission says it is concerned motor insurers were signalling price increases to each other before raising premiums. This is seen as cartel-like activity - where players in a market who are supposed to be competing against each other, instead act to regulate prices.
Drivers have been hit by a 68pc surge in the average cost of a premium in the last three years. In the last year alone premium rates have shot up by a third.
Insurers could face fines of up to €5m, or imprisonment, if the competition body is successful in getting the director of public prosecutions to take a case and that case is won.
Meanwhile, car rental firms fear they are being targeted by criminal gangs coming here to stage motor crashes. The criminals are lured here because claims are much higher than in other EU states.