Car manufacturers have been holding UK car buyers by the short and curlies, the competition watchdog, the Office of Fair Trading, has said. Restrictive distribution channels must end and prices will come down by more than £1,100 on average.
That the OFT has bite – at last – is clear to all. The GISC will have to have its rulebook approved by the sharp-toothed hound before insurers will be allowed to savage GISC-regulated insurance sellers. And rightly so.
But what about the area of insurance systems? Where is the OFT investigation into this vital area of the industry? There must at least be grounds to question whether or not the major players are being anti-competitive.
The reason: the internet.
The IIB's Insureright is just the latest in a line of internet trading systems for brokers to throw up the problem of integration into existing back office systems. InsurE.com found itself in a similar position, as did the Experian internet venture. All these systems will provide internet quotes but cannot, yet, be integrated into current back office systems.
The back office system providers seem unwilling to help. But then they are developing their own website systems and will want to tie in their existing customers to their own services.
New entrants to the market will offer systems that will link in with the internet sites, but if these systems tie in with just one of the competing sites, brokers will still face a Catch-22 situation.
A system in which brokers can choose any back office system and integrate it to the web system provider of their choice will bring huge benefits to the market. And to the consumer.