Sunday

22nd May 2022

Insurance policies should not be based on sex, EU jurist says

  • Women tend to live longer than men and have benefitted from cheaper life insurance in the past (Photo: soylentgreen23)

Insurers should no longer take a person's sex into account when calculating policies, an advisor to the European Court of Justice said on Thursday (30 September), provoking anger in the industry, which adjusts life and health contracts according to whether they are for men or for women.

The preliminary opinion, by Advocate General Juliane Kokott, said that statistics showing different risks for the two sexes may not be used as a basis for treating men and women differently because they do not show an innate difference between them.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Talking about longevity, which sees women often pay less for life insurance as they tend to live longer, Ms Kokott argued that the difference is due to behavioural habits such as eating, smoking and exercise.

"The Advocate General takes the view that it is legally inappropriate to link insurance risks to a person's sex," said her statement. "Differences between people, which can be linked merely statistically to their sex, must not lead to different treatment of male and female insured persons when insurance products are developed."

"The use of a person's sex as a kind of substitute criterion for other distinguishing features is incompatible with the equal treatment of men and women."

EU law already bans taking sex into account when calculating premiums and insurance contracts. But the existing directive also provides for an exception if differences in risk assessment are backed up by solid statistics.

The case originates from a complaint brought to a Belgian court by a consumers' organisation, Association Belge des Consommateurs Test-Achats, and two individuals, challenging higher male life insurance premiums.

The court is not obliged to follow the advocate general's opinion in its overall ruling but precedent shows that it often does.

The insurance industry has already reacted strongly to the opinion. The European insurance federation (CEA) warned of its potentially far-reaching implications.

"If this risk-based, factual principle is not maintained, premiums will increase, coverage will decrease and some products will be withdrawn from the market entirely. Insurers must be able to calculate their premiums in a fair and sustainable way, using all relevant factors," said Michaela Koller, CEA director general.

"Insurers differentiate. They do not discriminate," she added.

Opinion

What Europe still needs to do to save its bees

On World Bee Day, it is essential to pay homage to a variety of pollinating insects crucial for our food security. A number of EU projects contribute to their sustained survival.

Agenda

Economic worries and Hungary on the spot Next WEEK

Eurozone finance ministers will discuss the economic worries with the backdrop of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, agriculture ministers are set to talk food prices, and EU affairs ministers will put Hungary on the spot in the Article 7 procedure.

MEPs urge sanctioning the likes of ex-chancellor Schröder

Former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Austria's ex-foreign minister Karin Kneissl should be blacklisted if they don't step down from top Russian state-owned companies, while EU countries should sanctions Europeans who take key jobs at Russian state firms.

Agenda

Economic worries and Hungary on the spot Next WEEK

Eurozone finance ministers will discuss the economic worries with the backdrop of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, agriculture ministers are set to talk food prices, and EU affairs ministers will put Hungary on the spot in the Article 7 procedure.

Podcast

Ultraconservatives in Putin's shadow

Vladimir Putin's Ukraine war has threatened to be a public relations disaster for hard-right gatherings like the Conservative Political Action Conference — now meeting in Budapest and featuring Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, who remains highly-cordial with the Kremlin.

News in Brief

  1. UK to send 'hundreds' of migrants to Rwanda each year
  2. Norwegian knife attacks were domestic dispute
  3. Sweden hits back at Turkey's 'disinformation' in Nato bid
  4. Germany's Schröder gives up one of two Russia jobs
  5. G7 countries pledge €18bn in financial aid for Ukraine
  6. Italian unions strike in protest over military aid for Ukraine
  7. Russia cuts gas supply to Finland
  8. Half of Gazprom's clients have opened rouble accounts

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. What Europe still needs to do to save its bees
  2. Remembering Falcone: How Italy almost became a narco-state
  3. Economic worries and Hungary on the spot Next WEEK
  4. MEPs urge sanctioning the likes of ex-chancellor Schröder
  5. MEPs call for a more forceful EU response to Kremlin gas cut
  6. Catalan leader slams Pegasus use: 'Perhaps I'm still spied on'
  7. More EU teams needed to prosecute Ukraine war crimes
  8. French EU presidency struggling on asylum reforms

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us