Price comparison website Compare the Market has been stung with a £17.9m fine from the regulator after breaching competition law.
An investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) concluded that the website had prevented home insurers from listing lower prices on rival comparison sites between December 2015 and December 2017.
Compare the Market had imposed wide “most favoured nation” clauses on home insurance providers selling through its platform, which prohibited insurers from offering lower prices on other websites.
The clauses also prevented Compare the Market from being undercut which made it harder for rivals to challenge its strong market share.
“As a result, competition between price comparison websites, and between home insurers selling through these platforms, was restricted,” the regulator said today. “The CMA found that this is likely to have resulted in higher insurance premiums.”
A spokesperson for Compare the Market said the company was “disappointed” with the decision and “does not recognise its analysis of the home insurance market.”
“We fundamentally disagree with the conclusions the CMA has drawn and will be carefully examining the detailed rationale behind the decision and considering all of our options,” they added.
Michael Grenfell, the CMA’s executive director for enforcement said the website’s actions were “unacceptable” and today’s fine should “come as a warning – when we find evidence that the law has been broken, we will not hesitate to step in and protect consumers.”
Rocio Concha, director of Policy and Advocacy at Which?, said: “The actions of Compare the Market have fallen well below the standard you’d expect from a company who claims to be working in the best interest of consumers, so it is positive to see the CMA intervening to protect consumers and issuing this large fine.