Throughout 2016, motor insurers were the subject of a number of complaints to the Workplace Relations Commission (the “WRC”)(1) allegeing that quotes provided for motor insurance were discriminatory on the grounds of race, contrary to the Equal Status Acts 2000 – 2015 (the “Acts”). The basis for these complaints was that customers who held EU driving licences (i.e. non-Irish driving licences), received higher quotations than they would have received had they held an Irish driving licence.

In all complaints, the WRC found in favour of the motor insurers. The WRC held that while the complainants had established a prima facie case of indirect discrimination, the insurers successfully rebutted this by demonstrating that the higher quotation was justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary. The WRC took into account the widespread issue of non-disclosure of material facts to insurers and the importance of verifying information. Verification of penalty points is independently and immediately available in respect of Irish driving licences. As motor insurers are unable to verify the driving record and penalty points of non-Irish driving licences, the WRC found that a higher premium to such licence holders was justified in the circumstances.