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Insurers fear impact of EU pregnancy rule

The Association of British Insurers is warning that new European Union rules forcing providers to disregard pregnancy in the underwriting process could cause confusion and is calling for Treasury guidance.

As part of the EU gender directive which was transposed into English law in April, insurers must disregard pregnancy as a factor in the underwriting process from December.

The directive states that any exemptions and underwriting criteria should not lead insurers to refuse cover or provide different costs and benefits.

ABI spokesman Jon French warns that unless clarity is given on the issue, the directive could create a “very tricky and messy situation”.

He says: “Nobody knows how these things need to be treated. It does not say it in the directive, it does not say it in the UK transposition of the directive and there has been no guidance from the Treasury which is the lead department on this.

“It is quite frankly up in the air. In an ideal world, it would be nice if there could be some Treasury guidance but that would still be subject to challenge in the European Court.”

RGA business development manager Mick James says removing pregnancy from the underwriting process could pose a huge problem for the insurance sector. He says: “The implications could be quite tricky for life offices and IFAs because excluding pregnancy from the process masks potential health issues.”

CBK Colchester principal Peter Chadborn says: “I do not think removing pregnancy is an opportunity to mask potential health issues as medical records will show whether something relating to the individual was prevalent beforehand.”

A Treasury spokesman says it is working alongside other Government departments and the FSA on the implications of the directive.


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