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EU insurance discrimination ruling described as 'madness'

Article by Simon Christopher
Posted: 2/10/2010 - Last updated: -
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A senior figure in the European legal system has ruled that insurance companies should not be allowed to discriminate solely on the grounds of gender. It's been described by one British member of the European Parliament as "simply madness."

The ruling came from Juliane Kokott, the advocate general to the European Court of Justice, the highest court in the European court system. It's an advisory ruling, meaning judges in the court are expected to take it into account but don't legally have to abide by it. In practice, judges usually follow such rulings.

Kokott's ruling relates to a current exemption to European law on sexual discrimination that allows insurers to charge different rates to men and women based on proven statistics about their likelihood to make a claim. This is often used by insurers charging women less for car insurance because they statistically have fewer crashes, or less for life insurance because they statistically live longer (and thus pay premiums for longer.)

According to Kotter's interpretation of the law, an exemption should only be allowed where there is a specific and relevant biological difference between the genders, rather than just statistical patterns of behavior.



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