Competition regulator launches probe into Comparethemarket home insurance pricing

 
Oliver Gill
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The CMA is reviewing so-called "most favoured nation clauses" (Source: BGL Group)

Britain's competition watchdog has launched an investigation into price comparison website Comparethemarket over allegedly unfairly priced home insurance deals.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) revealed details of the probe as part of its findings following a year-long in-depth investigation into online comparison websites.

Watchdog concerns centre on "most favoured nation clauses", exclusive deals agreed between an insurer and price comparison site. Such clauses mean certain deals cannot be advertised by the insurer on their own website and are not offered to rival price comparison sites.

The exclusive nature of the deals clashes with CMA findings that concluded almost two-thirds of people use more than one price comparison site when shopping around for the best deal.

Read more: Firms forced to "up their game" by price comparison sites, says regulator

A spokesperson for Comparethemarket said the firm "operates some simple contractual arrangements with home insurers to ensure that our customers always get the lowest available price".

"We welcome the opportunity to discuss this further with the CMA,” the spokesperson added.

Representatives from the CMA declined to comment on the name of the insurance firm involved.

The use of the most favoured nation clauses is not universally used by comparisons sites.

A spokesperson for rival Moneysupermarket said it "has never used wide most favoured nation clauses in any sector and strongly supports the CMA’s proposal to review them across all sectors".

The wider CMA review, however, was more generally positive of the role such comparison websites play. It said they had forced firms to "up their game" and that 90 per cent of consumers were either very or fairly satisfied with them.

Read more: Comparison websites face competition probe

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