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Commission repeats call for brand clarity

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The Productivity Commission has released its final report on competition in the financial system, including general insurance.

It makes similar proposals to those in its earlier draft report, aiming to counter what it considers a highly concentrated market dominated by IAG, Suncorp-owned AAI, QBE and Allianz.

The four own more than 30 brands, which obscures the degree of market concentration, the commission says.

It wants every brand to specify on its website the products that are underwritten by the same insurer. It also wants insurers to provide up-to-date lists of brands they underwrite to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, which will publish the information.

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) says it is reviewing the recommendations, but a spokesman told insuranceNEWS.com.au the council “does not agree with the conclusions about competition in the general insurance industry”.

“ICA maintains that, for most products, insurers that have several brands in the market do so to foster customer choice in product value.”

The commission calls for the phasing-out of insurance levies, and ICA says this is long overdue.

Consumer Action Law Centre Senior Policy Officer Susan Quinn has welcomed the recommendations, announced last Friday.

“From a first read, it is positive,” she told insuranceNEWS.com.au. “It is reinforcing things that have been recommended.

“The report shows competition isn’t working. The illusion of competition is the problem.”

See ANALYSIS.