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European Commission offers equality guidance to insurers

The European Commission has today adopted guidelines to help the insurance industry implement unisex pricing, after the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that different premiums for men and women constitute sex discrimination...

22 DEC 2011 | POSTONLINE

In its ruling on the Test-Achats case on 1 March, the Court of Justice gave insurers until yesterday to treat individual male and female customers equally in terms of insurance premiums and benefits.

Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner, met with leading EU insurers in September to discuss how the industry should adapt to the Court's ruling.

Following consultations with national governments, insurers and consumers, the new Commission guidelines are designed to benefit both consumers and insurance companies while responding to the need for practical guidance on the implications of the ruling.

Redding said: "When the Court of Justice issued its decision in the Test-Achats case on 1 March this year, I promised that the Commission would help insurers and consumers adapt to the ruling. By adopting these guidelines a full year ahead of the deadline to comply with the court's ruling, we have lived up to our commitment.

"It is now up to the insurance industry to ensure that there is a smooth transition to fully equal treatment of men and women in insurance. The Commission will remain vigilant in how the industry implements the court's ruling. I expect that insurers that move to a unisex tariff first will have a competitive advantage on the European market."

The guidelines adopted today cover a series of issues which emerged from in-depth consultations with member states and stakeholders. They clarify that the ruling applies only to new contracts, in particular to contracts concluded as from 21 December 2012. They also give specific examples of what is considered a "new contract" to ensure a comprehensive application of the unisex rule at EU level from the same date.

Michel Barnier, EU commissioner for the internal market and services, added: "There have been some concerns among insurers as to the impact and consequences of this important judgment, in particular at this time when insurers as all other financial market participants face important challenges.

"I believe that these guidelines will be helpful for the industry and assist them in adapting their contracts and premiums to be able to ensure timely and full compliance with the judgment. This will be beneficial for both the industry and policyholders."

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