Business World

Sunday 15 September 2019

Meerkat firm comparethemarket.com busted by UK competition watchdog

Comparethemarket.com’s meerkats Aleksandr and Sergei (comparethemarket.com/PA)
Comparethemarket.com’s meerkats Aleksandr and Sergei (comparethemarket.com/PA)

Ravender Sembhy

Britain's competition watchdog has found that comparethemarket.com is in breach of antitrust law over its arrangements with insurers, which could be resulting in higher costs for consumers.

Following an investigation, the Competition and Markets Authority provisionally found many of the price comparison website's contracts include so-called "most favoured nation" clauses.

They were found to prevent home insurers from quoting lower prices on rival sites and other channels, meaning customers are presented with fewer options.

It also meant home insurance companies are more likely to pay higher commission rates to comparison sites with the extra costs potentially being passed on to customer, the CMA said.

CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: "Over 20 million UK households have home insurance and more than 60% of new policies are found on price comparison sites. Therefore it's crucial that these companies are able to offer customers their best possible deals.

"Our investigation has provisionally found that ComparetheMarket has broken the law by preventing home insurers from offering lower prices elsewhere. This could result in people paying higher premiums than they need to."

The comparison website, famous for its use of meerkats Aleksandr and Sergei in its TV adverts, could be fined up to 10% of its revenue as a result of the breach.

A spokesman for comparethemarket.com said: "We are disappointed by the CMA's provisional findings.

"We will carefully review the evidence once we have access to it, and look forward to working with the CMA over the coming months to ensure a satisfactory outcome."

PA Media

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