Using gender as a risk factor in insurance contracts "constitutes discrimination", says ECJ

The European Court of Justice this morning ruled that insurers will no longer be able to charge different premiums to men and women because of their gender.

“In the insurance services sector, the derogation from the general rule of unisex premiums and benefits is invalid with effect from 21 December 2012,” the Court announced this morning.

“Taking the gender of the insured individual into account as a risk factor constitutes discrimination.”

The ruling, in the Test Achats case, removes the industry’s exemption from the 2004 Gender Directive.

The industry will have almost two years to adapt to the changes, with unisex premiums taking effect from 21 December 2012.

Click here to read the full judgement.

The Financial Services Authority has estimated that the ban on gender differentiation in motor insurance will cost the industry 3-4% of annual premiums, putting the cost to the motor insurance industry at around £400m, according to the latest figures from the Association of British Insurers.

The ABI has estimated that women’s motor insurance premiums will rise 25% on average and up to 50% for younger drivers.

Eurosceptic think tank Open Europe says the verdict will cost a 17 year old woman an extra £4,300 in insurance premiums by the time she is 26.

The ABI expects motor insurance premiums for men under 25 to drop 10%.

But think tank Open Europe says that the verdict’s costs for the insurance industry will be passed on the customers, raising premiums across the board.

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