Six motor insurers have agreed to limit the way they use an IT system that allowed them to share information about prices. The Office of Fair Trading took action over fears the system allowed a price cartel.
The system involved credit agency Experian running an "information exchange" using software from SSP limited. The six insurers using the system were Ageas, Aviva, AXA, Liverpool Victoria, RBS and Zurich.
Each of the firms was able to check prices being charged by competitors. The OFT said this created the risk that companies could effectively agree to keep prices at a certain level by not undercutting one another. It warned that such behavior would breach the Competition Act.
The companies involved have agreed they will in future only use the system under specified circumstances. These are that any data on the system that is less than six months old must be entirely anonymized, and that the figures quoted must be aggregated across the other firms. This means each company could only check the average price for a particular car or type of driver, rather than finding out the highest or lowest quotes on offer.
To further reduce the potential for misuse, data can only appear on the system once the relevant policy is bought by a customer and the policy is active.