Rulings on age discrimination could be next, warns Girl Motor director

Premiums for young women will rise by 30% if an EU court ruling prevents insurers from taking gender into account when they price policies, according to research by Girl Motor.

Director David Harlow said the niche female motor broker’s research suggested young women drivers faced a 30% hike in premiums if the European Court of Justice rules that underwriters should be prevented from pricing policies differently based on gender.

EU advocate general Juliane Kokott submitted an opinion to the Court in September that taking a person's gender into account for insurance purposes is discriminatory. The court, which is due to rule on the case early next year, rarely goes against the advice of advocate generals.

Harlow warned that the move could then lead to rulings against age discrimination in policies.

“The idea that age could be removed from the underwriting armoury is as daft as suggesting that young drivers are no more likely to claim than someone in middle age,” he said.

A spokesman for female-only insurer Sheilas’ Wheels, which is lobbying UK MEPs on the issue next week, voiced concern about the implications of the decision for single mothers.

He said: “The vast majority of single parents in the UK are women. If the price of insurance rises artificially for young women, it will have a very bad knock-on social effect.”

Sheilas’ Wheels is also concerned that price rises will have an impact on the safety of vulnerable women. “Young women may not be able to afford insurance and could end up in the back of unlicensed minicabs,” said the spokesman.

Scottish Labour MEP Catherine Stihler – whom Sheilas’ Wheels will be lobbying next week – urged Kokott to urgently reconsider her opinion.

She said: “The advocate general needs to re-look at the case before it becomes law in January. She needs to look at the broader issue rather than just discrimination.”

“It’s a tricky issue,” Stihler said. “I am instinctively against discrimination, but this is different.”

She added that she supports gender-biased insurance policies based on statistical modelling.