TOP CITY FIRM ‘BROKE THE LAW’

BGL Group vows to work with au­thor­i­ties to se­cure ‘sat­is­fac­tory out­come’

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - YOUR TELEGRAPH - By Paul Grin­nell paul.grin­nell@jpress.co.uk Twit­ter: @PTPaulGrin­nell

Bosses of Peter­bor­ough­based Com­parethe­Mar­ket have voiced their dis­ap­point­ment at claims it has bro­ken com­pe­ti­tion law.

The price com­par­i­son web­site, which is owned by in­sur­ance gi­ant The BGL Group, of Or­ton South­gate, has been crit­i­cised by the Com­pe­ti­tion and Mar­kets Au­thor­ity (CMA) fol­low­ing a lengthy in­quiry.

The CMA has been in­ves­ti­gat­ing the use of so-called ‘most favoured na­tion’ clauses in the price com­par­i­son web­site’s con­tracts that it is claimed stop home in­sur­ers from quot­ing lower prices on ri­val sites.

It has pro­vi­sion­ally found these clauses could be caus­ing cus­tomers to miss out on bet­ter home in­sur­ance deals.

CMA chief ex­ec­u­tive An­drea Coscelli said: “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.”

She said: “Over 20 mil­lion UK house­holds have home in­sur­ance and more than 60 per cent 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.”

The CMA states the clauses pre­vent ri­val com­par­i­son sites and other chan­nels from try­ing to win home in­sur­ance cus­tomers by of­fer­ing cheaper prices than Com­parethe­Mar­ket.

It also says this means home in­sur­ance com­pa­nies are more likely to pay higher com­mis­sion rates to com­par­i­son sites with the ex­tra costs po­ten­tially be­ing passed on to cus­tomers and as a re­sult, peo­ple buy­ing home in­sur­ance could be miss­ing out on cheaper pre­mi­ums.

A spokes­woman for the BGL Group, which em­ploys about 1,800 peo­ple in Peter­bor­ough, 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.”

BGL faces a fine of up to 10 per cent of its an­nual world­wide group turnover if it is found to have breached UK and Eu­ro­pean Union com­pe­ti­tion laws.

In Oc­to­ber BGL re­ported rev­enues of £660.9 mil­lion mean­ing a pos­si­ble fine of up to £66 mil­lion.

The of­fices of Com­parethe­Mar­ket owner The BGL Group.

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