ComparetheMarket face collective consumer claim following competition breach
The price comparison site received a £17.9m fine for competition breaches last year
The Home Insurance Consumer Action Group has today (1 November 2021) filed an opt-out collective claim against price comparison site ComparetheMarket on behalf of over 20m UK consumers of home insurance.
In November 2020, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) fined ComparetheMarket £17.9m after it found the price comparison site had breached competition law in contracts with certain insurers that listed on its website.
Contracts with 32 insurers included wide ‘most favoured nation’ clauses which restricted those insurers from offering consumers lower prices on other comparison websites over two years.
The CMA concluded ComparetheMarket’s conduct affected competition between price comparison websites and the home insurers that listed on them. It also found consumers who purchased home insurance via a price comparison website were likely to have paid higher prices as a result of ComparetheMarket’s actions.
ComparetheMarket has appealed the CMA’s decision and the appeal is being heard in the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT). Home Insurance Consumer Action will ask the CAT to stay its claim pending the outcome of ComparetheMarket’s appeal.
In the proceedings issued today, the Home Insurance Consumer Action Group claims ComparetheMarket’s conduct caused all purchasers of home insurance to overpay for their policies, whether those policies were purchased via ComparetheMarket, from another price comparison website or purchased or renewed via other means, such as direct from an insurer.
It believes it is likely all purchases and renewals of home insurance made between 1 October 2015 and 1 June 2020 were affected by ComparetheMarket’s conduct – however, the scope of the claim is subject to further review and analysis.
Kate Wellington, director of Home Insurance Consumer Action Limited, said: “Price comparison websites should play an important role in allowing consumers to make informed pricing decisions.
“Unfortunately, ComparetheMarket’s anti-competitive conduct achieved the opposite of this and looks likely to have increased prices of home insurance for over 20 million UK consumers. I am determined that consumers who have overpaid should be refunded and I’m delighted to be leading this claim.”
The Home Insurance Consumer Action Group has instructed London law firm Hausfeld to act on its behalf. Leading the team is partner, Nicola Boyle. She said: “The Competition and Markets Authority has found that ComparetheMarket infringed competition law and it is right that consumers who have been forced to pay higher prices due to this conduct are effectively compensated.”