Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has welcomed the decision by the Central Bank to investigate the price discrimination by the insurance industry.
Before the Finance Committee today at Deputy Doherty’s request, the Central Bank confirmed they were undertaking a review into the impact of dual pricing on consumers and provide recommendations to deal with the findings.
Deputy Doherty wrote to the Governor of the Central Bank requesting an investigation into the practice on 25th September, and warned that any review must be followed by an option to ban the practice by the industry outright.
Speaking today, the Donegal TD said:
“On the 24th September I asked the Central Bank to come before the Finance Committee to discuss dual pricing by the insurance industry, and the following today wrote to the Central Bank requesting that they investigate the practice and ultimately ban it.
“Companies are targeting renewing and vulnerable customers and charging them with extortionate prices in the expectation that they will not ask questions or shop around.
“This is unfair, anti-consumer, and must be stopped. It is discriminating against vulnerable customers and another example of the industry’s unfair practices in the market.
“I am pleased that the Central Bank have agreed to my request, and will undertake a review to find out the impact this harmful practice has on consumers, with recommendations for further action.
“In the United States dual pricing has been made illegal in as many as 17 states, including California and Florida. In Britain, regulators are considering banning the practice outright. Irish consumers deserve no less.
“While I welcome the fact that the Central Bank have agreed to my request, I am concerned that the recommendations following this review will fall short of the bold action that is required to protect consumers.
“The Consumer Protection Code 2012 makes clear that insurance companies should act honestly and fairly in the best interests of consumers. Dual pricing is practiced without the knowledge of consumers and discriminates against vulnerable groups and loyal customers.
“While the Central Bank has no role in setting premium prices, it is able to ban pricing practices that are not compliant with the principles of fairness and transparency.
“It is clear therefore that the Central Bank as the power to ban dual pricing. Irish consumers deserve no less. Sinn Féin will continue to push for the best outcome for those who are being ripped off by insurance costs.
“I am also pleased that my request to invite Liberty Insurance, AXA, FBD, Aviva and An Post before the Committee to discuss the practice of dual pricing was agreed to, and I look forward to challenging their pricing practices.”