The Association of British Insurers has warned a European ruling banning gender pricing in insurance could open the door for similar legislation on age and disability discrimination.
In March last year, the European Court of Justice ruled gender pricing for insurance products will be banned from December 21, 2012.
The ruling, based on a challenge by Belgian consumer group Test-achats, followed an opinion from advocate general Juliane Kokott that using gender as a risk factor when pricing insurance is discriminatory.
The decision will affect the way insurers price annuities, life insurance, income protection and critical-illness cover.
Speaking to Money Marketing, recently appointed ABI director of life, savings and protection Stephen Gay (pictured) says: “The lesson of the RDR is to look at things that are on the edge of our radar because once they are at the centre of the screen, it will be too late.
“The Test-achats judgment tells us there are cultural perspectives in Europe that mean fairness and equality are seen as the same thing. There is a risk the European agenda will take the judgment into other territories such as disability or age. The ramifications for critical illness and life insurance are potentially huge.”
Cicero Consulting executive director Mark Twigg says: “If the notion of risk-based pricing is not acceptable in gender, it is obvious that Brussels will see it as the thin end of the wedge. Why would you outlaw gender inequality and then not do anything about age? It is something Brussels will come back to.”
The Annuity Exchange director Stuart Bayliss says: “The ABI is right to be addressing this issue now because it is clearly a big potential risk to insurers.”