Insurers ‘price gouging’ customers for too long, Dáil hears

Insurers ‘Price Gouging’ Customers For Too Long, Dáil Hears
Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty said the practice of dual pricing is ‘endemic’ in the insurance market. Photo: PA
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By Michelle Devane, PA

The “game is up” for insurance companies who have been “price gouging” customers for too long, the Dáil has heard.

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty said insurers had been engaging in a practice called dual pricing to charge customers much higher prices than the cost of their policies.

The party’s finance spokesman said the practice is “endemic” in the market.

He made the comments as the Dáil debated the second stage of the party’s bill proposing an end to dual pricing in the insurance industry on Wednesday.

Dual pricing, or differential pricing, is the practice whereby some consumers are offered cheaper premiums by insurers than others despite having similar risk profiles.

Mr Doherty said: “Today is the day that we send a clear message to the insurance industry that the game is up in relation to exploitative practices for home insurance and motorists.

“For too long the insurance industry has been able to price gouge its customers.”

He added: “Dual pricing is endemic right across the insurance market… it affects more than seven in 10 Irish policyholders with many being overcharged hundreds of euro, every single year.

“While the insurance industry has been allowed to rip off Irish customers, action has been taken elsewhere.”

Between 2014 and 2017, he said, 20 US states had prohibited the practice of dual pricing, including California, New York and Florida.

The UK is introduce a ban on dual pricing later this year.

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“Irish consumers deserve no less,” he said.

“My insurance bill will ban this price gouging activity.

“It will ban dual pricing by requiring insurance providers to use only rating factors directly related to the risk to be insured so that renewing customers can no longer be charged artificially high prices based on their likeliness to renew their economic background, their spending patterns or any other trait, not related to risk.”

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