back to article UK will obey Euro unisex-insurance rules from 2013

The UK Government is to abide by a European ruling on the use of gender in insurance, although it says the judgment goes against common sense. In March 2011, the European Court of Justice ruled in a test case known as the Test-Achats case that from 21 December 2012 insurers will no longer be able to use gender as a factor in …

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  1. Magnus_Pym

    Banrmy? No!

    Insurance companies use ridiculous stereotyping and social grouping to determine risk. Gender is no more of an indicator of idiocy than postcode or age. I pay a premium because my car has an 's' in the model description, It's a 1600 diesel FFS. They should get serious about risk and offer decent reductions for regularly taking advanced driving lessons etc.

  2. It wasnt me
    Thumb Down

    Genius

    Really, cant we get a little bick of our sovereignty back please? This is a ludicrous decision.

    Please roll back the RU experiment to the EFTA, and allow as many people as you like to join. That was the only useful part of the EU.

    Failing that though, can my wife take out a 10 year car insurance policy?

  3. Big_Boomer

    The insurance con

    Well as I see it the insurance has a choice.

    They can either start treating people fairly, or they can get regulated to treat people fairly.

    Since they seem to do such a bad job of treating people fairly, the regulation is starting.

    It will get a LOT worse and not before time.

    Undoubtedly they will use this as yet another excuse to make even more money, and to avoid reporting much of it using their usual convoluted (but legal) accounting practices.

    Everyone should look forwards to their insurance bills going up again, but then again they always do don't they. Every year, yet another above inflation increase.

  4. joshimitsu

    Reverse Equality

    So they'll just bump up the female driver's premiums to match the men, plus another 10% for good measure.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    no title

    What goes against common sense? Would it be ok to charge black people more for car insurance because they were statistically a higher risk? The basic fact is that gender has no link to driving skill whatsoever and is merely a handy money making stat for insurance companies.

  6. Nigel Brown
    WTF?

    Sir.

    So what happened to "call me Dave"s rhetoric about getting tough on Europe, tearing up the loony diktats, and putting people first?

    What's that? It was all bull just to get elected??

    Surely not.

  7. anarchic-teapot
    Unhappy

    Premiums

    "There was, however, some uncertainty about how the judgment would apply to premiums and benefits for policies written before the 21 December deadline"

    Oh, I can tell you that. They'll shoot up, since insurance companies will use the highest risk factor at all times. Possibly weighted, I grant you, but nevertheless it'll cost more.

    While I try not to act like a raging feminist, it does annoy me that so-called "equality" measures like this one (and the same retirement age for all rule) actually penalise women, since we tend to earn less, take fewer risks, spend more time actually raising children, etc. etc.

    PS The first sentence of the article was printed twice.

    1. Ian Ferguson
      Thumb Down

      Prices going up

      Most of the arguments against this equality ruling seem to be 'prices will go up for everyone'.

      It's a free market. Inflation means (generally) prices go up, but competition in the insurance market exists, and consumers will continue to choose the cheapest.

      This ruling is not about pricing, it is about equality. You might as well argue that giving women the vote meant that the impact of each vote is diluted.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      FAIL

      You seem confused....

      Apparently in some worlds, "regulation" (which is what we are seeing here) on goods sold to a captive buyer pool (which is what we have here) makes things better and "fairer"

      That's like a US dude claiming that's he so free while he's being escorted to a Gitmo Flight.

      How's the regulation to mandatorily have > 40% females on companies' boards coming btw.? Ministers of female affairs all over the EU seem pretty happy about having that.

      1. David Hicks

        Mandating >40% of one gender

        is not treating people fairly as individuals. It's the opposite, it's treating people as part of a group and giving them advantage or disadvantage based on that group.

        Mandating that they all get the same access to insurance regardless of gender is treating people fairly.

        (Please note before replying that I'm some sort of sexist pig that I have no vested interest in keeping any gender ratios as they are or really any interest at all in boards at all. I'll start worrying about the fairness of the glass ceiling when I get out from under the glass carpet. The boardroom is not accessible to 99.9999 percent of men either. If adding some old girls to the old boys club that you still will never be part of, makes you happy, good for you)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Devil

        Actually, you are confused

        Captive audience pretty much mandates regulation.

        The problem there is that watchdog is as toothless as it gets and then some. I have yet to see the FSA do anything about vehicle insurance. In the rare cases when something is done it is all OFT.

        70%+ of UK insurers (by market share) violate a number of treaties and conventions to which UK has signed for.

        Example - the insurance green card convention. UK insurers censor out half of the countries (from 42 or so) on the list, interpret the 90 days mandatory insurance requirement as a "single trip only" and add all kinds of interesting xenophobic requirements to it. In fact, the only insurance company I can think of which is fully compliant is AA.

        For comparison - in the rest of the EU you get a green card (uncensored) by default paying at most 10-20Eu admin fee for the more contentious countries. You can take you car to the neighboring (and quite often not so neighboring) countries as many times as you want and for as much as 6 months in any given country provided that your road tax, insurance and MOT are valid. Your insurance remains valid and in most cases you have full coverage same as in home country.

        Try to get those conditions from a UK insurer. Some other time...

        In any case - more regulation and specifically mandatory enforcement of all international conventions to which UK has signed up is a good thing in this case. In the absence of regulation the insurers are skinning the traffic for all it can bare and using the price comparison sites to ensure they do not undercut each other (there is a number of OFT cases on that all won by the OFT so far).

    3. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Double standards

      You can't have it both ways.

      If you want equality with men then you have to have everything equal. You can't pick the things you want and the things you don't want to be equal.

      Earning less is more of a cultural problem in the UK, we are very secretive about our pay and so everyone can be on different wages and not know it.

      So women are unique in that they are the only ones raising children? tell that to all the single male parents.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Actually I never understood the retirement age

        Could someone explain to me;

        Women (in general) live longer than men

        Women (used to) have a lower retirement age than men.

        How's that work?

        1. Mycho Silver badge

          Cause and effect

          Working until later in life made men die younger.

        2. Colin Miller

          Women married younger

          When the state pension was introduced, women tended to marry men a few years older than themselves. The idea of the 60/65 retirement age was that, on average, the couple would retire at the same time.

      2. anarchic-teapot

        @Giles Jones

        You misunderstand. We're talking *time away from paid employment*, not actually coping with the kids after work and at weekends. You know, maternity leave, that sort of thing.

        And while there *are* single fathers, there are far more single mothers. Nevertheless, could you please indicate where I state that women are unique in raising children? I would hate to unjustly accuse someone of using a straw man argument.

        Note also: women also tend to be harder hit by unemployment.

        As for lower pay being a cultural thing, that is true. Employers use the "time off for having children" ploy for paying less, giving fewer promotions. Secrecy has nothing to do with it. If you want to tell women they have everything equal, you must address that discrepancy (you can't have your cake and eat it, you know).

        Now then, would all those nice people who downvoted my first post like to explain why my daughters, who until this January paid significantly less on their driving insurance as they passed their test via the accompanied driving scheme, now pay the same swingeing rate as an under-25 male who never did accompanied driving, i.e. the statistically highest-risk category?

        A more useful exercise would be to examine this and other silly rules imposed by the EU and/or the Govt, to identify who else is getting relatively short measure. I can actually think of one or two where men are getting the worse deal.

        1. Tom 35 Silver badge

          passed their test via the accompanied driving scheme

          Who said anything about that? If someone passed their test via the accompanied driving scheme they get a discount, male or female. If the female didn't take the extra training, and the male did then the male would pay less. Don't accuse others of using a straw man argument and turn around and do it yourself.

    4. DavCrav Silver badge
      Joke

      There's your problem

      "I pay a premium because my car has an 's' in the model description, It's a 1600 diesel FFS"

      Should have bought the 1600 Diesel FF then...

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      "female driver's premiums"

      "I've never had an accident but I've seen plenty"

    6. Zimmer

      Pensions/Annuities

      Yes, they have been penalising you women since the 90's in this respect.

      The actuarial tables used to calculate the cost of your pensions/annuities showed you lived longer than men and worked(paid in contributions) less. Therefore your Final Salary pensions were comparitively more expensive than men's. (Commutation factors were always higher to reflect this, too, so you got a good deal when commuting pension to a lump sum).

      By then women had become more commonplace in the workplace than ever so a greater burden on the Pensions for less contributions than envisaged 20 or 30 years previously.

      Net result is the 'need' to take away that privileged position to save money (as always) : a levelling down to the same situation as men wil happen (eventually).

      As for Annuities, I reckon it was always more expensive to purchase one for a woman, so that will have to change. (No prizes for guessing that the price of a man's Annuity will go up to compensate and pay for it...)

      Pension: probably the most expensive and valuable thing you will ever purchase . Keep an eye on it.. :)

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Megaphone

      Equality

      Exactly. The same with health insurance. Some races are more susceptible to certain illnesses. Can the insurance companies "discriminate" there? Of course not.

      People quite rightly want equality, but it they usually start to become very selective when they realise it might work against them. Family law is another great example.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Yes it would.

      It would also be ok to charge black people less for car insurance because they were a statistically lower risk.

      Why do you automatically assume that black people would be a higher risk? I think you have some racial issues that you need to resolve.

    9. mark 63 Silver badge
      FAIL

      The basic fact is that gender has no link to driving skill

      "The basic fact is that gender has no link to driving skill "

      no the basic fact is that women make less claims and cost insurance companies less money because , basicly, they dont drive like knobheads

      -mark

      (a man)

      1. Chika
        Holmes

        Actually...

        What it comes down to is that equality should rule here since there is no reason why women can't be idiots, any more than men can.

        Before we start trading facts Usenet style, we need to be absolutely sure about this one point, and we also need to take into account the number of miles per year done by people in relation to the number of accidents that are reported. It's that ratio that should be applied when judging a person's ability to drive, IMHO.

        Notice that I said "person".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Actually...

          > and we also need to take into account the number of miles per year done by people in relation to the number of accidents that are reported.

          Perhaps that is why insurance companies ask what your estimated mileage for the year will be.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Statistically prejudiced

        Knobhead may be stretching it, but men have higher speed, more expensive accidents.

        Insurance comes down to this:

        - Apply stereotyping based on statistics, to as narrow a group as reasonably possible.

        - Adjust for individual information.

        - Add as much margin as you can get away with.

        I look forward to a future EU ruling that bars police forces from concentrating resources in high crime areas.

        1. Vic

          Re: Statistically prejudiced

          > Add as much margin as you can get away with.

          There's definitely somerthnig in that.

          I recently rang up for an insurance quote. I was asked whether I'd had any other quotes - I said I had, and told them what it was.

          The new quote was, miraculously, a little cheaper than my previous quote.

          I neglected to let on that the previous quote was from the same company...

          Vic.

          1. Tom 35 Silver badge

            Add as much margin as you can get away with

            When the company I've used for 15 years jacked up my rate 10% (no claims...) I got a much lower price and switched. When I cancelled the old policy they called me up, and offered me a rate a little better then the new policy (magic) even though they said they could not do anything before I switched. Told then they had had their chance and to piss off. They see a loyal customer as a sucker to be ripped off, not someone who should be getting the best deal.

      3. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
        Paris Hilton

        Not lying is not the same as telling the truth

        Yes, women do have less accidents and claims then men, however stand on any road (except outside your local primary school at 9am in the morning during school term) and you will see a lot less female drivers than male drivers.

        But insurance don’t release figures like that because that would put their own rates for insurance premiums under the microscope, much better to make non specific claims about how young men are more likely to have an accident than anyone else, again without the level of detail to allow such a claim to scrutinised.

        Of course this will put up insurance premiums fro everybody, have you ever heard of anything happening in the insurance industry that brings insurance rates down???? When it comes to excuses for increasing rates the insurance companies have a set of excuses that make’s BOFH excuse of the day seem rational…

        But remember this is not about making woman drivers pay more for their insurance, its about making the insurance companies from ripping off the low hanging fruit (no, not a reference to male genitalia) of young male drivers. Only this morning I was watching a knobhead weaving in and out of the traffic, cutting in on people, in his two year old Audi, the one that looks like a flat VW beetle, age: 50-60!

        Paris, our resident expert in knobheads

      4. steogede

        @mark

        >> no the basic fact is that women make less claims and cost insurance companies less money because , basicly, they dont drive like knobheads

        Do all men drive like knobheads or is it that most knobheads are men? If it is the former then charging men more isn't unfairly discriminatory, however if it is the latter, then the vast majority of men are being penalised because they happen to be of the same gender as most knobheads - which is unfairly discriminatory. Unless insurance companies publish their figures and statistics, we will never know - of course they won't (unless they are forced to).

        Personally I think there is a strong argument for charging everyone the same for car insurance - perhaps using monitoring to charge more for driving more and/or at risky times of day, and drivers of more expensive cars more to cover the greater expense of repairs. The only other fair option I can see, would be for insurers to open their books and prove that they aren't being unfairly discriminatory.

    10. G Murphy
      Facepalm

      Re: The insurance con...

      "every year, yet another above inflation increase"... except that's not true in the slightest, 'inflation' in insurance terms isn't the price of bread at your local supermarket, it's the price of paying claims, which have sky rocketed over the last ten years.

      A little bit of research will show you that in fact the motor insurance industry in particular has barely made a profit over the last 15 years due to increasing claim costs (bad) and rampant competition (good).

      You seem to be coming from a point of view that insurers make ridiculous profits at the expense of joe bloggs. Where on earth have you got that from? Have you confused banks for insurance companies?

    11. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      What will be the next thing these effing do-gooders choose to ban.

      Charging more for those who live in crappy places where the chances of getting you property stolen or vandalised is higher?

      Charging more for drivers who have lots of accidents, they might just suffer from bad luck.

      Charging more because of age; assuming young are inexperienced/stupid/fast, or the old cannot remember where thier going.

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      1. Anonymous Coward
        Headmaster

        It's not discrimination. It's statistics.

        Can't base premiums on gender anymore, noted.

        If I can check my stats and correlate higher annual make-up expenditure with lower risk of accidents, can I ask about that on the application form?

        "Do you spend more or less than X-median-amount on make-up in an average year?"

        I have no idea what your gender is. Some of the higher responders will certainly be male. But statistically I rather suspect I'll find a correlation between lower risk drivers and make-up spenders.

        1. beerandbiscuits

          @ac 13.15

          Try googling "indirect discrimination" and you will have your answer.

        2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        3. Tom 35 Silver badge

          But statistics can be bent.

          In Canada you pay more premiums for a 2 door car. 2 door covers a lot of the high power cars (toys) that have high costs linked to them. But it also covers cheap, low power commuter cars.

          Statistics show that 2 door cars cost them more, true. Is that an indicator of what is actually going on? No, 2 or 4 doors has nothing to do with it.

          As a result almost no one buys a cheap 2 door if a similar model is available with 4. because it will cost a lot more in the long run.

          And statistics don't tell you much about an individual. I'm male, single, and have never had an accident in 32 years of driving. A close relative of about the same age is female, married, and has written off 3 cars (and a tree, a light pole, and another car) even though their so wonderful statistics say she should be a lower risk.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: RE: Sir.

        "They need to stick to social factors rather than genetic factors such as where you keep your car in terms of judging likeliness of theft, or how many previous accidents you've had. Anything else is just penalising the innocent unfairly, even if they are a minority in their arbitrarily defined group."

        Hear, hear!

        There's an important principle in this, and one that I believe ought to apply generally.

        People shouldn't have to pay more, or be discriminated against, on the basis of facts over which they had no control. But those things that are a matter of choice may legitimately be the basis for subsequent discrimination.

        Women can reasonably be expected to pay equal rates to men, since men and women had equally little choice in which genders they were born with. A woman is just as responsible for a man being born male as that man himself. It's entirely fair that they share the costs, equally, of both their unchosen genders.

        More generally, society as a whole should collectively and fairly bear unchosen costs, since no one in society chose to incur those costs any more than anyone else. But costs that individuals freely choose to incur should, usually, be borne by those individuals. That's just personal responsibility.

        A man, being male, might be more likely to take risks than a woman. But he can choose whether or not to take those risks. He can take gender differences into account by choosing to be particularly careful when driving. If he chooses to take a risk, and crashes, he can then lose his no-claims bonus and subsequently be charged higher premiums. He would then be charged more for taking a risk, not for being male.

        Men, on average, may end up paying more in practice, but it will be those men who have more accidents and make more claims who will be paying more. This is clearly reasonable and just. Those who choose to take more risks end up paying more, while those who keep safe aren't then discriminated against on the basis of gender.

        1. Simon 88
          Stop

          Title

          I agree that basing it on gender is shaky, but I'm not so sure about the general "things you have no control over" part.

          If we move from motor insurance to life insurance for example - people don't have control over some pre-existing conditions, but nobody would expect a cancer patient to get approved on a life insurance policy (or if they did, the premiums would be astronomical).

          By the same token, "being male" is a pre-existing condition in itself - men have shorter life expectancy than women, so now women are going to pay more overall for life insurance despite there being strong medical and statistical evidence to suggest that they aren't as much of a risk as this would suggest?

          Where exactly do we draw the line between "things people can't help" and "obvious reasons that make one person more of a risk than others"?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Title

            "Where exactly do we draw the line between "things people can't help" and "obvious reasons that make one person more of a risk than others"?"

            What I'm trying to say is that the costs of unchosen differences in risk (and unchosen differences generally) should be fairly borne by everyone collectively. (The NHS, at least traditionally, is/was an example of this kind of principle in practice.) How much someone should contribute to the cost of something should be based on how much they chose to contribute to creating that cost in the first place. Differences in cost should not be based on the luck of the draw of birth.

            It may well be the case that, statistically, from the perspective of someone who knows of no other difference between Alice and Bob than the fact that one's female and the other's male, Bob is statistically a higher risk. Bob no more chose this than Alice, so cannot justly be expected to bear any greater cost than Alice. They should bear the cost equally, since they're equally responsible (neither had any choice) for being born with the genders they and each other were born with.

            If Bob then drives unsafely, when he could instead drive particularly carefully, he is making a choice. He can reasonably be expected to bear the costs incurred accordingly (such as once he's crashed and has to pay higher premiums afterwards), without Alice having to pay for the risks she never chose for Bob to take.

            It may well be the case that a greater number of men take bigger risks than women. Neither Bob nor Alice chose for this to be the case (beyond themselves as single individuals, which only makes a tiny contribution statistically), so neither should have to pay more than the other for such correlations between gender and risk. (And if Bob does choose to contribute to such a correlation by not driving carefully, he can then bear his share of the cost accordingly once he crashes.)

            1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Anonymous Coward 13:07

        im sorry but your talking rubbish, but i do see your point :)

        Being a different colour makes absolutely no difference to your driving

        Being young does, inexperience

        Being a male we are less likely to drive safely as we are more likely to take chances

        Being a young male you are more likely to be inexperienced and take more risks,

        what does that equal? more likely to crash your car, this is proven with statistics, no messing about, young males are involved in more accidents than any other group

        What does all that mean? well it means that if your a safe young male driver your shit out of luck, get over it, drive safe and you will pay less over time, everyone else gets a relatively fair deal.

        Now before you ask, i am a relitively young driver, ive gone through the high payments, and now i pay about the average, ive proven im a safe driver. Is it fair to young men, nope, course its not, but thats not the point, the point is, insurance companies have to pay out to fix things, if the cost to fix things is high then the insurance payments go up, which is why young men pay more, they have taken the less of two evils before now because its even more unfair that the majority of people should pay more then is needed.

        Now what does it all mean, it means everyone who already drives safe will end up paying more for an accidient they are unlikely to ever have.

        Nice one, the needs of the few out weight the needs of the many, story of this countrys life recently.

        1. The Jase

          @Dazzza

          im sorry but your talking rubbish, but i do see your point :)

          Being a different colour makes absolutely no difference to your risk of getting pregnant and leaving work.

          etc, etc, etc to end with

          What does all that mean? well it means that if you're a safe sex young woman you're shit out of luck, get over it. Practice safe sex and you will be paid more over time, everyone else gets a relatively fair deal.

          -------

          Now do you see how innane your example is? Should we try the same exercise with other races or nationalities? How about religions?

    13. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      a little bick

      Don't you mean "a lickle bit"?

    14. JohnG Silver badge

      Men, Women and accidents

      "The basic fact is that gender has no link to driving skill whatsoever and is merely a handy money making stat for insurance companies."

      The statistics for accident claims show that, on average, women have more accidents than men but their accidents tend to be low speed, few or no injuries and low cost. Men on the other hand, whilst having fewer accidents than women are the main culprits when it comes to multiple vehicle, high speed and extortionately expensive accidents. It doesn't really matter whether it is down to driving skill, spatial awareness, over confidence or different journey types - insurance companies only care about the cost of claims.

    15. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Playing the race card

      > Would it be ok to charge black people more for car insurance because they were statistically a higher risk?

      Using your postal code against you will cover that well enough.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Mushroom

    Not barmy, Mayan insurance

    I know of fellas who drive carefully (I have myself been accused of driving like a grandad), and of females who drive like maniacs. You can't base driving risk on XX/XY chromosomes.

    Somewhat apt though, is the insurance industry's choice of date for implementation - 21 December 2012, just as the world comes to a Mayan predicted grisly end.

  9. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge
    WTF?

    Equality spelled out for them....

    "The judgment goes against the grain of the common sense approach to equality which the UK government wants to see."

    Errrr....what?

    By establishing that prices for a service (in this case insurance) cannot be altered based on the basis of gender it goes against not only common-sense but the "equality that the government wants to see"? WTF? I assume I don't need to point out to my fellow commentators how ridiculous that statement is?

    Pricing based on gender is inequality at work. The insurance companies may well be able to statistically prove that women are "better risks than men", but I wouldn't expect them to do similar analysis on ethnic minorities!

    Why are insurance companies allowed this luxury anyway? Why can't the price of stocks and shares, another risk, change depending on the gender of the buyer? Oh. Wait. Thats discrimination, isn't it?

    The only factors in determining someone's insurance premium should be how long they've been driving, the specifications of the vehicle and whether the driver has a record of accidents.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    On the bright side

    At least this will mean the end of those ghastly "Sheila's Wheels" adverts...

  11. Lockwood
    Thumb Up

    About time!

    I know someone who's a professional driver, and his sister who had two own-fault writeoffs in a year gets to pay less insurance, simple due to possesion of breasts!

    I've always argued that Diamond/Sheila's Wheels should not be allowed to exist: Insurance "for women only". If I made "Bob's Wheels" for men only, the feminist movement would go crazy!

    It's about time that insurance across this board stopped looking at generic statistics and started to look at individual factors more.

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