back to article ECJ gender ruling 'could throw insurance into turmoil'

Insurance companies could have the methods they use to calculate premiums thrown into turmoil tomorrow when the European Court of Justice (ECJ) rules on whether or not they can discriminate between male and female customers. Tomorrow the Court will publish its ruling that could remove the exemption from equality laws that …

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  1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Next

    All clothing must be unisex to be sold legally, jewelry is banned and school must handout lipstick to boys...

  2. Matt Bradley
    Grenade

    Am I missing something?

    this sounds like stupidest ruling in the history of stupid rulings.

    Insurance companies have determined that statistically speaking, men are more likely to crash cars and cause damage / injury than women, and that women are statistically likely to live longer. However, they are not allowed to offer products which are tailored to the peculiarities of those groups of people. Instead, they must deny completely that any such differences exist.

    In other words, the court is asking insurance companies to behave as if black == white and 2+2=5?

    Well, I can see how this will be of HUGE benefit to society...

  3. Mike Hanna

    Men might claim money back?

    Really? Call me cynical, but it's likely that women's preumium will rise to match men's rather than the other way around.

  4. GrumpyJoe
    Flame

    EU Meddling....

    Or prudent - I've never liked the idea of paying more for my 'gender' - what if it was statistically show that black men were worse drivers - could you apply a premium hike on them and get away with it?

    And before people start - it's discrimination if it is against something you can do nothing about (colour,gender,disability) - not something you can (religious identity, being an asshole).

    Swings and roundabouts, I'll pay less but the wife'll pay more... by 21 December 2012 (when the ruiling comes into force).

  5. RJ

    It is simple

    In the beginning the insurance companies will just assume the worst case and gouge people for premiums.

    For example all drivers will be treated as male when applying for driving insurance.

    All like insurance applications will be treated as female.

    After that market forces (if you beileve in that sort of thing) should sort out those with the better algorithms who can offer the lower premiums.

    Pensions going to be a bit of an arse though.

  6. Juillen 1

    Speaking as a male..

    I find this to be yet another stupidity in the name of "Equality". If the actuarial models show that there is a distinctive probability bias between male and female with respect to risk, then that is likely to be the truth. Simple statement that "Men and Women must be equal in all things" is just blindness, pure and simple. They aren't. They differ. Live with it.

    I'm happy with that bias if there's a mathematical proof that it exists, as that's more likely to be true than the nonsense that spews from a politician's wish that all things become equal by fiat.

  7. lIsRT
    Go

    cha-ching!

    "It is not clear whether any change in the law will apply from tomorrow and whether it will be retrospective," said Tucker. "If it applies retrospectively, consumers who do or have held policies that used gender based pricing may be able to claim back any additional premium paid. This could cause large losses to the insurance industry at a time when it is already anticipating increased costs from changes to the approach to financial services regulation."

    Oh I do hope so; standing by to make sure some of those "large losses" find their way to me.

    On a more serious point, problems around gender equality could have been largely avoided by making the laws simpler and clearer - just pass a law saying that every other law or regulation (whether government or otherwise) which refers to one sex applies equally to the other sex (or "gender", if there's any unnecessary distinction between the two words).

    1. Marky W
      Stop

      Not so sure

      Insurance is a fiercely competitive market, so simple economics should see prices meeting somewhere in the middle.

      1. Elmer Phud
        Headmaster

        Insewerants

        Nah, they are thieving bastards who will find a way of increasing prices for all.

      2. Hayden Clark
        Unhappy

        Really?

        I'd not noticed - the across-the-board price increases I see each year in my premiums seem a bit collaborative to me.

    2. My Alter Ego

      Swings and roundabouts

      You'll probably find you'll pay more, and the wife will pay the same.

    3. Rob Aley
      Alert

      Understand statistics

      This ruling isn't saying everyone "must be equal in all things", in fact it is saying the opposite. it is saying you can't generalise, you have to look at the individual.

      Statistics only reflect a given population, not a given individual. But the insurance companies don't calculate a premium for the given population (i.e. all men) and then charge everyone in the population the same, they calculate it & charge for an individual.

      The fact I have a penis doesn't make me drive like all other men. My wife has had more accidents than me, but gets a lower premium (with all else i.e. age, driving years, address, car etc. being the same).

      This ruling simly says look at MY risk. Not my genders risk. Not my populations risk. But risk that can be attributed to what I choose to do (i.e. MY previous driving record, MY years of experience, MY choice of cars, MY choice of address, MY choice of parking location, MY selection of fluffy dice).

      If you split the population into those with surnames begining A-M and those with surnames begining M-Z you would likely find one group to have a higher number of claims than the other. But it would be unfair to charge you a premium based on your surname because there is nothing inherent about your surname that affects your driving. This ruling is based on a similar fact, that there is no evidence that anything about being a man causes you as an individual to be more likely to make a claim.

      Men have more accidents. Being a man doesn't cause accidents.

    4. My Alter Ego
      FAIL

      Swings and roundabouts,

      Doh, I meant you'll probably pay the same, but the wife will pay more.

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Unhappy

        More like

        "You'll pay more, and so will your wife..."

      2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Headmaster

        "you have to look at the individual"

        Cue "data protection" and "privacy" problems galore.

        If an insurance decided to up the premium against the guy who gets spastic rage attacks every 5 minutes on the highway because he's just wired that way as a PET scan would objectively show all hell would break loose which at least 50 QUANGOs and oppressed minority spokespersons filing amicus curiae briefs.

        "But it would be unfair to charge you a premium based on your surname because there is nothing inherent about your surname that affects your driving."

        As any statistical hypothesis testing would show. And that's why insurance isn't calculated on star signs.

        "Men have more accidents. Being a man doesn't cause accidents."

        Causality is irrelevant. Learn2statistics.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          @Destroy All Monsters

          Causality is not irrelevant. Cause != correlation, if you go down that route, then global warming is caused by the decrease in the number of pirates.

          Statistical hypothesis tests are all very good and well where you can control opr correct for all other variables, but to make a decision based upon a binary variable in the presence of uncontrolled variables has a very low statistical significance. The insurance companies only make a choice based upon sex because it is cheap and easy to ascertain and confirm, rather than other, likely more significant factors, such as intelligence, to name but one. It is purely a financial consideration on their part. Whether it is fair is down to debate, and to be honest I can see both sides of the argument. Personally, I think maybe that if premiums are based upon sex, then we must see evidence that they are also being based on other factors that have an effect, and that the price difference genuinely reflects the difference with the correct statistical weighting. All of the information used to calculate a premium should be available to the insuree at the time of purchase.

          1. Kibble
            IT Angle

            RE: Statistical planning

            Insurance is simply big business. Run by people to make a profit. In the interest of keeping costs low and insuring (no pun intended) some privacy of their customers they are forced to generalize based on statistics they can easily define. This is not a whole lot different from budgetary planning of any other company, corporation, or country.

            As an example, since this is a tech site: management at company X decides to use the internet for increased sales. Research to find what servers are available and which won't be outdated in the next Y years is needed. However, as we all know, any server can be subject to breakdowns at any time due to many factors. Statistical data is used to generalize which servers have the least breakdowns and general maintenance costs. Granted, some planning about specific replacement parts as well as possible extended warranty costs vrs 3rd party maintenance contracts go into the mix. However, planning of anything else takes a back seat to the decision for the capital costs of purchasing, placing, and running the server in the first place. As time goes on the Admin staff will make suggestions on increases to the budget based on more specific criteria such as a better internet connection, increased local storage capacity, cloud based backups, updated OS, and so forth. The bean counters will report on whether the internet sales have increased the company's sales and profits. Management determines the prices to charge for their product based on prices charged by any competitors. Of course, the sales of the product could decrease also, but that is a problem for the sales and/or R&D departments. However the original planning was due to simple statistical planning on what server to use. It's all just big business buying as cheaply as possible to make a (inflated?) profit on its product.

            Now the local gov comes along to tell the company that they have to buy their IT equipment from approved sources as well as purchasing their bandwidth from a specific (local) ISP. The government isn't looking at the company's profits or costs of running the business at all. It's even ignoring the amount of tax it collects from said company. Being politically correct is the be all/end all for the bureauocrats.

            Just my 0.02 euros.

        2. Rob Aley
          Boffin

          you have to look at the individual

          Destroy All Monsters :

          "As any statistical hypothesis testing would show. And that's why insurance isn't calculated on star signs."

          And also why, as described in court, premiums shouldn't be calculated on gender either. There is no statistically significant evidence that justifies gender based pricing.

          "Men have more accidents. Being a man doesn't cause accidents."

          "Causality is irrelevant. Learn2statistics."

          I've "learn2statistics", I work in statistical programming at Oxford University. Causality is only "irrelevant" if you're not interested in systems that are equitable and based on what the statistics actually say. Inferring the risk of an individual from population based statistics is problematic at best, and in this case mostly wrong. It only "works" for the insurance companies as their goal is profit, not equitable risk pooling. It is a cheap hack that meets that goal that mostly works for them.

          Compulsory insurance must be fair. In no sense of the word is gender based pricing fair (on the consumer). I should perhaps have clarified in my first post that I understand why the insurance companies do this. I also understand how that differs from their justifications.

      3. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Wait a second...

        "MY previous driving record, MY years of experience, MY choice of cars, MY choice of address, MY choice of parking location, MY selection of fluffy dice"

        Do you really want an actuary living with you full time? Also maybe a tax inspector to assess YOUR risk of becoming a tax-evader? And a policeman to vouch that you are not a terrorist?

        And why would you want anyone to know that much information about you? Nothing to hide, nothing to fear?

        1. Rob Aley
          Pint

          Re: Wait a second...

          "Do you really want an actuary living with you full time? Also maybe a tax inspector to assess YOUR risk of becoming a tax-evader? And a policeman to vouch that you are not a terrorist?"

          The the facts about me above are already asked for (maybe not about the fluffy dice) by most insurance companies. I'm not in favour of them becoming more and more intrusive, in fact I would choose an insurance provider who asked me the least number of questions (and pay a bit more as a result). My point is that whatever information I choose to provide the insurance company with about me (in return for a reduced premium maybe) should be used soley on a PERSONAL RISK based basis. Telling them I'm male doesn't provide them with any useful statistics on my risk. Telling them I've had 23 accidents in the 1 year I've been driving does.

          "And why would you want anyone to know that much information about you? Nothing to hide, nothing to fear?"

          I am personally happy with the insurance companies knowing the information I suggested above, for me it provides a nice balance between benefits (cheaper premium) and comparitively low risk. I think maybe you misunderstand my point, its not that they should know everything about me. It is merely that what they do know (and what they should know is a whole other debate) should only be used to increase my premium if there is a fair and reasonable expectation that it increases my risk to the pool. There are no data to suggest that me being male increases my risk to the pool.

          .

      4. Chris Miller
        Thumb Down

        Sorry Rob

        Speaking as a lapsed actuary, I'm afraid you've missed the underlying concept of insurance, which is risk pooling. Even if it were possible to identify YOUR specific risk (which would involve far more detailed questioning than you'd like and probably cost more than the insurance itself) there'd be no point, since the premium charged would be equal to your claims (plus the cost of all that research). Instead, insurers divide people into groups on the basis of gender, age, location, occupation etc, and charge a correspondingly different rate for each group.

        What the court is proposing might work where insurance is compulsory (eg cars, buying annuities), but will fail when it is optional (eg life cover, health). This is because the public aren't fools - if insurance is legally required to be offered at the same rate to everyone, those who judge they're at higher risk will tend to buy insurance, while those at lower risk won't. As a result, the insurer will either go bust or will have to charge a substantially higher rate to everyone. Big win for consumers there.

        1. Rob Aley
          Thumb Up

          Sorry Chris

          Car insurance pricing at the moment isn't about pooling risk, its about maximising profit for the insurance company. Charging me more for simply being a male does nothing to lower the risk/cost for the pool as a whole. Charging me more for causing more accidents or parking in a dodgy area does, as it disuades me from doing so and increasing the risk to the pool.

          The example you give of knowing so much that the premium charged is equal to my claims is based on a false premis, that being that knowing all specific risk criteria means you can predict accidents with certainty. As long as you don't know enough to predict specific accidents (i.e. you only know the risk), the concept of pooling that risk means that you have an average chance of your premium being lower than your claims.

          The example risk criteria I listed above (driving record, parking locations etc.) are already asked by most insurers. I would be fine with completely pooling risk, i.e. everybody pays the same insurance premium regardless. However where, for whatever reason (be it to reduce the risk to the pool or increase the profit to the provider) it is necessary to break the pool down for charging purposes, it is only equitable to do it on a basis of factors one can reasonbly influence, and which lead to a provable risk for the individual in that pool. Gender fits neither of those criteria.

          With regards to non-compulsory insurance (e.g. life cover), consumers don't win in the current system anyway. The risk isn't pooled, its minimised by removing risky people from the pool (not by minimisng the risk itself). The only winners (on average) are the insurance companies. All other companies have to build business models which ensure they don't descriminate unfairly, the insurance industry should be the same. If being male increases my risk (testicular cancer) then increase my premium. If not (car driving) I'm just part of the general pool, charge me accordingly. If your business model won't work that way, look closer to home to see the problem.

          1. Chris Miller

            Sorry don't get it done, Dude*

            Car insurers exist to make a profit - what, just like every other business then? Feel free to set up your own car insurance not-for-profit business if you like, be sure to let us know how you get on.

            Back to reality, any extra premium charged to a higher risk group (eg males) can be used to reduce premiums to a lower risk group (eg females). There is no doubt that, as regards car insurance, males have more accidents than females. Note that this remains true even if we control for other factors - location, age, experience, etc. So gender is undoubtedly a provable risk factor in car insurance.

            You state that "it is only equitable to (make extra charges) on a basis of factors one can reasonably influence, and which lead to a provable risk for the individual in that pool". I've disposed of the 'provable risk' argument, there remains the point that I can't (easily) change gender. But then I can't change my age, so is it equally inequitable to charge a 50-year old more for life assurance than a 20-year old (or vice versa if car insurance is the topic)?

            * "Rio Bravo" 1959

            1. Rob Aley
              Paris Hilton

              Re: Sorry don't get it done, Dude*

              "Car insurers exist to make a profit - what, just like every other business then? Feel free to set up your own car insurance not-for-profit business if you like, be sure to let us know how you get on."

              There are plenty of not-for-profit insurers, search for "mutual insurance", the NFC is one off the top of my head that I've dealt with before. Anyhoo, I've not got a problem with them as a business making money, I was pointing out that your description of insurance as pooling the risk wasn't an entirely accurate description of how many/most current insurance companies operate.

              "any extra premium charged to a higher risk group (eg males) can be used to reduce premiums to a lower risk group (eg females)"

              And charging people called Smith more could reduce the premiums of people called Jones. Its arbitrary. Many comments imply that females will now be subsidising bad drivers and that isn't fair. But as good male driver I'm currently subsidising them and that is fair?

              "There is no doubt that, as regards car insurance, males have more accidents than females. Note that this remains true even if we control for other factors - location, age, experience, etc. So gender is undoubtedly a provable risk factor in car insurance."

              No, there is plenty of doubt. To prove it, you need to either control for ALL other factors (and not just those that the insurance company ask about or know to ask about), or prove a causal link between gender and risk (e.g. testicles are more likely to get caught in the brake pedal). You are correct that it IS true that males have more accidents than females, but this may be due to another factor. I.e people have more accidents because of factor X, and more males have factor X than females, and so have more accidents. The correct response to minimise cost to the pool and fairly reflect risk is thus to charge higher premiums to those with factor X, not those who are male. Factor X may not be known or too costly to calculate of course, in which case the correct action isn't to discriminate, but pool the risk across everybody.

              The court also concluded the same, that it was not a provable risk to be male, and that is the only basis on which discrimination is allowed. It may be shrewd business planning to maximise profits by doing this, but no other business is allowed to make money by discriminating.

              "so is it equally inequitable to charge a 50-year old more for life assurance than a 20-year old (or vice versa if car insurance is the topic)?"

              No and yes. Being a 20 year old is like being male in the driving stakes, not directly relevant. Its experience that counts, so experience (e.g. number of years driving, number of miles driven, advanced driver training etc.) not age should be the determining factor. Life assurance is a different beast, it is not a pooling of risk. It is ASSURANCE not INSURANCE. It is essentially gambling with the providers money. But taken on the same "fairness" terms (and assuming that no master race of immortal humans emerges), it is a mathematical certainty that each day older we get the higher the probability of dying becomes, tending towards 1,with all else being equal. So I would say it is fair to make it a factor.

              1. Chris Miller

                Still not understanding

                Rob, you appear to be really interested in this topic - if so I would advise you to attend a statistics course and learn about Bayesian inference (easy to learn, much harder to understand). I repeat, there is no doubt that males experience more motor claims than equivalent females. The null hypothesis (that males and females experience the same rate of claims) is easily demonstrated to have much less than one in a billion chance of being correct. Your alternative suggestion of dividing the population by name into A-M and N-Z would just as easily be proven false.

                Now, it's always possible to say "maybe there's a hidden variable - perhaps shoe size or length of hair is the real determinant" and (like any counterfactual) it's impossible to prove with 100% certainty that this isn't the case. But you can be sure that a whole lot of actuaries, who have to know a great deal about multi-variate analysis, have looked into such possibilities. After all, if you could find one that worked, you could make a lot of money by providing special rates for people with small shoe sizes or long hair.

                But don't simply take my word for it. David Spiegelhalter* has written far more eloquently than I about the lunacy of this decision. Unfortunately, it's behind The Times's paywall:

                http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/article2925741.ece

                * Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge

                http://www.statslab.cam.ac.uk/Dept/People/Spiegelhalter/davids.html

                1. Rob Aley
                  Happy

                  understanding, just disagreeing

                  Chris, I have never denied that males have more motor claims than females, I agree its provably true (by bayesian inferance or probably by plain old frequentist infernece). And again, as I've stated above, its therefore financially prudent to price on this basis and understand why insurance companies do it.

                  However its still incorrect to say that it is provable that being a male is a higher risk than being female. This is a distinct concept from males as a group being higher risk than females as a group. You can apply bayesian inference to this hypothosis of individual risk as well, and may well come out with a high probability of it also being correct. But without being able to prove the basis on which you started (i.e. that you have either selected otherwise identical males and females from which to collect evidence and you have selected out any other possible traits which may affect driving from the group (not possible in my opinion)) then you have a major souce of inductive bias which makes the results worthless (or at least without a solid footing).

                  The judgement in question is simply saying that unless you can prove that my individual risk is affected by (not inferred by, not has a high probability, not is statistically likely, but is linked to) the risk of my gender as a group, then you are discriminating against me. You can show that my risk of testicular cancer is affected by me being male (the presence of testicles is a contributing factor I'm led to understand), but you can't show that my driving is affected by (or linked to) me being a male.

                  The law doesn't allow for statistical probabilities or inference, precisely because they are useless for accurately determining an atribute of an indiviudal. If you studied the prison population you would probably find some very strong statistically significant traits among the inmate populus. But it would not be wise to apply these to someone on trial to help determine their guilt.

                  I think we both understand the statistics, I think we just differ on what is fair to use in policy pricing (or, where the line should be drawn in fairness vs. practicalness vs. profitableness, and in group vs individual risk). Something I think we probably won't ever agree on.

                  I can't comment on the linked article as I'm poor and can't read it. I do understand bayesian inference and many other statistical techniques, I work in statistical programming day in and day out, so no courses necessary. Thanks for the suggestion though.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Stop

              Probably not

              "But then I can't change my age, so is it equally inequitable to charge a 50-year old more for life assurance than a 20-year old"

              Going back to the ruling, this is effectively a judgment of balance and fairness.

              Any sweeping generalisations are going to be unfair to a proportion of the population.

              However, to put it into context, is it fair for an employer to determine an average work rate split along gender lines and pay accordingly? Society deems this an unacceptable thing to do for the same reason as Rob thinks it unacceptable to do the same for insurance determination.

              Personally, I think that it is reasonable to use generalisations to determine the risk of an unknown quantity. However, as a driver gains an insurance/claim record, I don't see why generalisations should continue to be used. Driver history is a much better determinant of risk.

              I know we have the no-claims fudge, but a fudge it is.

      5. gafisher

        Unintended Consequences

        >> "This ruling sim(p)ly says look at MY risk."

        A great idea in the abstract, and with regard to driving record, experience and even choice of cars quite reasonable -- and already standard practice in the insurance industry.

        But do you REALLY want insurance companies to launch a background investigation into each applicant's life for such other details as you've listed? My extensive selection of fuzzy dice, for instance, is a deeply personal matter.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      there's a name for that (possibly an app too)

      "In other words, the court is asking insurance companies to behave as if black == white"

      Not behaving in that way is called racism :-)

    6. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      FAIL

      EU != ECHR

      For the Nth time!

      1. Matt Bradley

        I walked into that one

        Oh I just KNEW somebody would post something like that!

        Do insurance companies package products based on ethnic background as well? (I don't think they do in car insurance, maybe they do in life insurance?)

        That's very dodgy territory, as we that can have social implications beyond just that particular field, if we're actively researching statistics which categorise and subdivide areas of ethnicity by behaviour and life expectancy, etc. That all starts to sound a bit morally questionable.

        But I can't see what benefit is to be had from refusing to acknowledge established statistical patterns WRT gender. This seems like pure and simple denial, which just isn't healthy for any society.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          It had to be done.

          I don't think they break it down by race, but why shouldn't they? If insurance companies are allowed to discriminate on the basis of gender because of a statistical trend, on what other bases should they be allowed to discriminate?

          Suppose it could be shown that having/lacking a degree gave rise to a difference in risk calculation (say, if people with a degree were shown to be lower risk). Would it be okay to discriminate on those grounds? If yes, how about breaking it down to the individual university? Subject?

          I think there will always be a certain arbitary nature to these exemptions; at some point somebody will say "It may be a reliable trend, but it's going too far." Examples could include employment status, time spent abroad (and in which countries), income (are poor people safer because they can't afford to replace their cars?).

          1. Matt Bradley
            Grenade

            OK then. What about age discrimination?

            How do you fancy paying as the same amount for your car insurance (minus no claims) as a 19 year old male?

            As for the general priniciple of providing targetted services for different class / education / gender /ethnic / age groups based up statistical analysis of historical data... I'm starting to wonder why we're bothering with a national census AT ALL in this country if this kind of idea is fundamentally bad.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              My earlier title was misleading

              The title of my post above "It had to be done" was an amused reaction to the response to my comment that "black != white" == racism. Reading it the other way does rather change it's tone. (I'm the ame AC as before).

              I only bought a car after I left university, and to get a reasonable premium I became (and 2 years later still am) a named driver on my parents' policy (I still get my own no claims bonus though). I've not yet come to a concrete conclusion about whether I'm glad about this decision or not.

              In my earlier comments I was trying to explain that the use of some types of data being used to compute insurance premiums would feel like crossing a line to many, though working out exactly where that line is would be difficult (and always contentious).

              I didn't think the census was intended to provide anything other than a snapshot of "British society as of...NOW!". Aside from anything else, I think the historians of the future will appreciate the data.

      2. Clarissa
        FAIL

        @EU != ECHR

        However ECJ == EU and this is an ECJ judgement.

    7. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
      Coat

      Speak Your Branes!

      Ban this sick filth now!

    8. Alex King
      FAIL

      Daily Mail much?

      Men can buy and wear womens clothing as they wish, and vice versa

      Likewise jewelery

      I wasn't aware of lipstick handouts for girls either.

      My mind is all a-boggle.

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        @Alex King

        "Men can buy and wear womens clothing as they wish, and vice versa"

        Clothing stores forcing on consumers their gender-related related stereotypes about the type of clothing and price is not acceptable. Free Choice is a capitalist invention. The Government always know best and you are not qualified to dispute it.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Equality - doncha love it ?

    this ruling has shades of the ruling which made women equal to men by bumping their retirement age to 65.

    Weren't the 70s womens libbers warned to "be careful what you wish for" ?

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Equality - doncha love it ?

      Yeah, wow, we all totally regret that whole equality thing now. How short-sighted we were!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Damnit

        Had me giggling audiby in the office, and getting strange looks. I am reminded of this:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39qdhbkTko4

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Stop

      A vote, a push for equal pay,

      as well as the bits that are stupidly in favour of women that used to be massively in favour of men... yeah, I bet the feminists are weeping over the loss of like £200 a year. I'd be surprised if there aren't a couple of suicides.

      In other news, I think this sexual equality thing's a good idea- I know girly guys and boyish girls. Guys who can't find their way along a straight road and go everywhere at about 3/4 the speed limit, and girls who've got enough air going over bumps that they've jumped fences before rolling the car in a field.

      The risk doesn't depend on gender, it depends on your personality and your attitude to driving. There may be a relationship between personality/attitude and gender, but it's nothing to base your premiums on. How about starting off high and cutting it based it on the frequency, number and magnitude of your claims?

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: A vote, a push for equal pay,

        Genuinely interested to know, without any attitude, which bits are now stupidly in favour of women that used to be massively in favour of men. I honestly can't think of any, and I'm not being sarcastic.

    3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Equality

      "Weren't the 70s womens libbers warned to "be careful what you wish for" ?"

      Well, there you have it in a nutshell, equal rights means equal rights for all, none of this 'some are more equal than others'. Some 'feminists'* can be just as chauvenistic as some unpleasant example of male sexists. It's a case of equal rights, not just cherry-picking the ones that happen to suit.

      *I use the term feminist here in inverted commas to differentiate between those who want equial rights, and those who think themselves superior to men. In my mind, this is exactly equal to the sexism expressed by men who consider themselves superior to women.

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Equality

        Your post suggests you don't know the first thing about feminism, or indeed 'feminism', but don't let that stop you.

        1. MonkeyBot
          FAIL

          Re: Re: Equality

          Except he didn't say feminism, he said feminists. He's clearly referring to shouty misandrists who call themselves feminists.

          It's just like the people who love to tell you they're Christians whilst behaving in deeply un-Christ-like ways.

          1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

            Re: Re: Re: Equality

            Feminists pertain to feminism, no? And he doesn't appear to know much about either. But if he at least tries to discriminate between idiots and non-idiots under various banners then I guess that's something.

  9. lglethal Silver badge
    FAIL

    Anyone who thinks this will result in lower prices is a moron...

    All that will happen is insurance for women in driving and men in health will be increased to match there more risk associated opposite gender.

    Its a stupid idea anyway. Whilst im all for equality (and i do hate paying more for car insurance because im a male), i am well aware that the statistics clearly state that Men DO have more accidents then women, and so i can understand that the insurance companies factor this in. Same with women living longer, the stats are there.

    I sincerely hope the ECJ throws this out, otherwise my health premium will rise and my other halfs car insurance will go through the roof!

  10. Piloti
    Thumb Down

    According to the BBC.....

    .....http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12606610 it has gone through.

    So now, thanks to two whinnying, whining, moaning, stupid Belgians, all our premiums will go up.

    Another reason for the UK to tell europe to stuff itself ?

    P.

  11. copsewood
    Flame

    might as well end all insurance assessment

    Because every question they can ask on a form is likely to result in some kind of discrimination and inequality. That is the whole reason they ask questions on insurance, i.e. to assess risk factors. And when they have ended discrimination against any kind of risk differentiator, no-one will have any incentive to try to avoid accidents in future because nanny insurance will cover it, so we don't have to act responsibly any more. But by then insurance will be too expensive to obtain.

    Lets face it asking how old you are or how experienced a driver you are is ageist. Asking whether you have had any recent claims discriminates against the unfortunate. When it comes to life insurance, healthy 20 somethings would have to pay the same premiums for the same cover as 90 year old cancer patients. Narcoleptic smokers can burn their houses down and we all have to pay the cost, if we're fools enough to subsidise them by buying more expensive fire cover for ourselves that is. As those who need life insurance will no longer be able to afford it, we may as well get rid of insurance altogether and the social possibilities of mutual risk cover this industry once provided.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Megaphone

      I'm sorry

      But what's the point of insurance companies asking all these questions supposedly to risk assess you when they have already made pre-judged decisions about you ?

      Insurance should be sold on the risk assessment of the INDIVIDUAL and not just because you are male, female, gay, black, white or any other kind of bullshit.

      I for one welcome this ruling.

    2. Elmer Phud

      Unfortunate?

      "Lets face it asking how old you are or how experienced a driver you are is ageist. Asking whether you have had any recent claims discriminates against the unfortunate"

      Nope, it checks to see if you are possibly a crap driver who attracts insurance claims.

      Age is discriminatory -- it ensures that the most careless/reckless drivers are not old but young, older drivers tend to be a bit slower and usually take less risks.

      The 'unfortunates' are those who have to claim against them - not the other way round.

      1. copsewood
        FAIL

        discriminating insurance is good for society at large

        Ban discrimination against my advanced age and you will end the affordability of life insurance for younger parents of younger children who need this much more than I do. Banning discrimination against men like me who earn more than average women earnings forces low earning women to pay more expensive driving insurance. So women drivers are less likely to be able to afford to drive and so will have to work from home more and earn even less. This doesn't reduce overall gender discrimination it increases it by increasing the pay gap between men and women, so these effect of the stupid equality law behind this ruling is to increase inequality overall.

        As an older male I want insurance to discriminate against me in these 2 risk assessment respects because accurate insurance premiums are clearly better for society at large. Having very expensive insurance for young males likely to have too much testosterone encourages them to have to drive much less powerful cars until they have learned how to drive more safely, which is a social good for everyone around them. This daft ruling will clearly increase the injuries and deaths caused by irresponsible young male drivers, with most of the victims being in other social groups.

  12. Wommit

    Oh Boy, err girl... err human

    Sheila's wheels will be stuffed.

    So why, when there is a huge amount of statistical evidence to support the insurance industry's premium differentials, are people complaining about this?

    Is it just jealousy? Is _SHE_ paying less for her insurance that _them_? How about me, I pay more for health insurance than a twenty year old. Should I complain and get a refund for the last 30+ years of private health insurance?

    How about premium differentials within genders but by age? A younger driver pays more than an older driver. they pay more because they are a higher risk. Both of these drivers pay less than a very old driver. Again because they are a higher risk again.

    None of these decisions are made on the basis of gender, they are all made purely on perceived risk for each person.

    All these complains and (if made) judgments will do is drive up the premiums for everybody. NOBODIES premiums will go down.

    So well done whoever you were. You can be pleased with yourself that you took a working system and broke it. Well fucking done.

    Anyway, if there's a company called Sheila's Wheels purely for the girlies, why can't we have a Mike's Motors, or Clarkesons Cowboys for the boys? Gotta keep things equal dontchaknow.

    1. The Commenter formally known as Matt
      Boffin

      a few of your points

      >So why, when there is a huge amount of statistical evidence to support the insurance industry's premium differentials, are people complaining about this?

      When applied to a large group it may be true that men have more expensive accidents than women but insurance isn't sold to a 'large group' it is sold to an individual (Well an individual and a car usually). If you compare two similar individuals, male and female, then just charging more to the bloke is clearly ridiculous if you don't look at other factors including history. To an individual how you drive, where you drive and where you leave you car unattended are far more important than your gender when it comes to risk. Insurance companies use gender as a lazy way of guessing those things. (Of course if they could show that there was very little variation within the large groups e.g. 99% of men aged 18-25 make a claim for £2000 then this would be justifiable, but they can't. Safe male drivers get lumped in with unsafe male drivers - this is discrimination.)

      >How about me, I pay more for health insurance than a twenty year old. Should I complain and get a refund for the last 30+ years of private health insurance?

      Are you more or less healthy than a twenty year old. A large group of twenty year olds may be, on average, healthier than a large group of your peers (don't know how old you are). But if you are a healthy 50 year old (say) in peak fitness, eating the right things, doing exercise and no history of medical problems and you pay more than a twenty year old obese diabetic who eats nothing but cake and considers lifting your arm to grab the phone and dial 999 exercise, purely because of your age then yes this is discrimination.

      Should you complain? Maybe, you could kick start the revolution in private health insurance, (although people are more worried as car insurance is mandatory where health insurance is optional)

      >How about premium differentials within genders but by age? A younger driver pays more than an older driver. they pay more because they are a higher risk. Both of these drivers pay less than a very old driver. Again because they are a higher risk again.

      Tricky because older age implies more experience (although not necessarily the case), which can tend to mean less mistakes (although many of these mistakes will not necessarily translate into accidents). However very old drivers (however you define that) can become unfit to drive. Obviously this is not always the case (and if I suggested it was no doubt I would get loads of old but competent people yelling at me!) I would assume age is discrimination but years driving is not. (One of my mates is a couple of years older than me and had a driving license five-ish years before me - he shows up as lower risk than me even though he doesn't own a car and hasn't driven since passing his test - typical, no but does show problems inherent in the system.) And when people 'get old' (what ever age that is) the only was to check if people are safe is to look at them as individuals not market segments but this means testing and assessments which people hate (or involve every car having a big brother black box or such like).

      I suspect this will be addressed some point soon by the courts, but the current case is only looking at gender discrimination.

      >None of these decisions are made on the basis of gender, they are all made purely on perceived risk for each person.

      These decisions are made on perceived risk of a group of people to which the individual belongs, a big one of which is gender.

      >All these complains and (if made) judgments will do is drive up the premiums for everybody. NOBODIES premiums will go down.

      Source?

      I presume some of the more dodgy insurers will do as you suggest but in the whole (and with the aid of comparison sites) I think in the short term women's insurance will go up and men's down slightly until insurers come up with a better, (hopefully) more accurate and non discriminating form of calculating risk.

      >So well done whoever you were. You can be pleased with yourself that you took a working system and broke it. Well fucking done.

      They took an example of discrimination prohibited by law and told them to stop breaking the law!

      >Anyway, if there's a company called Sheila's Wheels purely for the girlies, why can't we have a Mike's Motors, or Clarkesons Cowboys for the boys? Gotta keep things equal dontchaknow.

      Shelia's wheels provide quotes for men too, they are just stupidly high (because they are men - guess what discrimination is illegal!)

      You could have opens up a Clarkson's Cowboys insurance for men, but if you group people into these larger groups, rather than treating them as individuals, then you would assume they are all high risk an still charge high rates.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Sheila's wheels

      If this ruling means the end of the infuriating Sheila's wheels ads, I'm all for it.

      PS very old drivers - It's my personal opinion that their premiums should go up too. Not because of their *direct* risk to themselves and their vehicles, but the risk *they pose to others*.

      Yeah, I'm look at you, you old bastard - the one who took about 4 seconds to clock the next door neighbours kid running into the street, and put him in hospital. Only minor injuries, thankfully, given the old bugger was driving at his maximum speed...10mph. He could barely open the door or walk, never mind press the pedals for an emergency stop. Of course, this little incident (like many others I suspect - like the time some old dear ran a red light and crossed a dual carriageway, almost causing total carnage) won't show up on the insurance stats.

      Sorry, but when I start running kids over on residential streets because I'm too slow/blind/infirm to stop in time, or to even see them - even at 10mph - you're more than welcome to ramp up my insurance or even take my licence.

    3. IR

      gah

      I don't know how Sheila's Wheels have got away with such a blatent logical falacy for so long. Companies that insure both men and women don't increase the cost of a woman's premium to make up for the extra costs of the men, each group is self-contained with its own cost-vs-profit.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Men are more dangerous drivers?

    I would like to see some recent statistics to back this up, traditionally more men drove and would also drive for longer periods, this has changed.

    Now that more women are driving to work under the same pressures as men I would like to see some new statistics showing age,travel duration, distance travelled per year and if driving was necessary to their job.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fair

    It's clearly bullshit, why should companies not be able to charge male customers more if the statistics support it. Insurance companies should be able to profile customers based on race and religion as well.

    If you're a male you pay X for your car insurance, if you're a female you pay Y, if you're a black you pay X if you're a white you pay Y and so on and so forth. I'm sure insurance companies have a wealth of data they could dive into and generate supporting statistics from.

    1. frank ly

      Raw Data

      The insurance companies themselves will have that data, since they are the ones who hold the details of their customer claims. However, they would (should?) use the data to determine risk and set premiums; so that data and their analysis of it may be held as 'company confidential' since it can give them a competitive advantage against other insurers in the same market sector.

      I don't know how the insurance companies operate at this level, so perhaps somebody who does know can chip in here...........

    2. Piloti
      Troll

      Well, actually.....

      ...there is a lot of statistical evidence for this.

      However, it depends what you mean by dangerous.

      Broadly speaking, and I do mean 'broadly' this is how it works :

      More men work than women

      More men drive to work than women

      More men drive more miles than women

      .... therefore.....

      men are , statistically, more likely to have some sort of bash.

      It does not mean men are more 'dangerous' or 'worse drivers' but, if you spend more hours behind the wheel, you are more likely to need the T-Cut every now and then.

      P.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Well, actually.....

        Men, especially young men are also likely to go boy racing in their cars, or try to impress the girls by driving unsafely.

        1. Elmer Phud

          And . . .

          . . . the stats also suggest that it's the girls who come off worse in a crash.

          Drivers have a higher survivability rate than passengers -especially front seat passengers, which are frequently the girlfriend.

          If it is possible to stop them showing off (unlikely) thier (in)-expert driving skills gleaned from many months behind the wheel and reducing passenger deaths then it'd be no bad thing.

          1. Shane Orahilly
            Joke

            and the view from tongue-in-cheek bigotry corner...

            ... is that fewer men would crash if the missus stopped nagging from the passenger seat.

    3. Equitas
      FAIL

      Have they really thought this through?

      Anonymous Coward wrote

      "If you're a male you pay X for your car insurance, if you're a female you pay Y, if you're a black you pay X if you're a white you pay Y and so on and so forth. I'm sure insurance companies have a wealth of data they could dive into and generate supporting statistics from."

      Of course they do. And what this equality doesn't appear to address is the simple device that will no doubt be used by insurers "Decline to accept" the risk.

      Should make for some interesting situations as it becomes illegal for an insurance company to know the gender of the insured.

      What's likely to happen is that motor insurance will not simply become more expensive for all younger people, it will simply become almost impossible to obtain at all.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Crap as it may be

    it is the right thing to do.

    Non-discrimination means exactly that - although young men in general are statistically more likely to claim (and their claims are also more likely to be higher) it is not proof that a particular young male driver will rack up expensive claims.

    This was inevitable - young women are statistically more likely to take time off work than young men (the baby thing kind of dictates that) but only a retarded misogynist of epic levels of retardation would suggest it is OK to pay young women less than young men for doing the same job.

    Equally worth mentioning is that this ruling will probably mean male pensions are reduced and female pensions increased (statistically men die earlier than women so the same pot will be used over a shorter time) as well, so basically what you gain on the swings you lose in the equality.

  16. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Good!

    Give everyone the same rate and only increase it when they have an accident, it's really discriminatory to charge men more just for being men and it's not fair on the good male drivers and bad women drivers.

  17. moonoi
    Thumb Up

    Why can't they insure the car, not the person

    Thats what they do over here in Thailand, then anyone can drive the car and they are covered. In Europe the same is true in both France and Finland that I know of and there are probably other European nations with similar rules....

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "increased customer detriment"

    What does "increased customer detriment" mean? Are we customers sitting on a slope and going down? I thought we were trying to improve our world? No?

    It might make perfect sense to someone well-versed in insurance lingo, but it sounds more like the wooly word salad we usually deride buzzword spewing suits for. Or maybe this is an unintended slip on the dark view the industry has on its "customers". So. Please do explain.

  19. squilookle
    Grenade

    Torn on this one

    Thinking logically, I think the idea of forcing the insurance companies to treat everyone the same is not a good thing. As someone further up the thread posted: there are differences between men and women, live with it.

    On the other hand, I can't stand insurance companies (or, I have yet to encounter one that I can stand, for those that don't like sweeping statements), they're a necessary evil, and I would like to see things as difficult for them as possible. (stoppng at the point where premiums have to go up, of course. Although, they don't need much of an excuse for that).

    1. Piloti
      Thumb Down

      .... same in Germany.....

      .... and it is terrible idea.

      It is people who cause the accidents, not the car.

      When it is based on the car, it is much more difficult to asses risk, because, as you say, anyone can drive the car, regardless of whether that 'person' is a twit or not.

      A muppet in a Fiesta 1.1 is still a muppet and should be charged muppet rates.

    2. Elmer Phud
      Thumb Down

      drivers

      Cars do not do the driving - it's the drivers who are shit.

    3. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Common sense where?

      "although young men in general are statistically more likely to claim (and their claims are also more likely to be higher) it is not proof that a particular young male driver will rack up expensive claims."

      If anyone will have a proof that you will rack up an expensive claim you will not get any insurance, period. Insurance works on getting small payments from everyone with expectations that only some of them will claim in the future. If, on average, one category of people claims more often than others the insurers must either raise the premia for that riskier category (fair) or smear the increase over everybody (not fair).

      "This was inevitable - young women are statistically more likely to take time off work than young men (the baby thing kind of dictates that) but only a retarded misogynist of epic levels of retardation would suggest it is OK to pay young women less than young men for doing the same job."

      Employers normally pay for work already done and not for work which the employee is likely to do in the future, with the exception of sign-on bonuses or some other motivational incentives. Once again your grasp of the role of statistics in the real world is disturbingly lacking...

      1. Elmer Phud

        plus

        Women are less likely to have time off sick, despite all the 'wimmins troubles'.

        Men tend to stay at home at the first sign of man-flu or any other excuse.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Vladimir

        It should depend on the risk category. Your driving record is a good category, as is your line of work, proposed use of vehicle or indeed any underlying health problems. Your gender is as useful a means to decide on risk as your race, religion, sexuality or political affiliations. Sure they may be a correlation if you look hard enough but to do so is discriminatory.

        If someone is a member of a risky category by dint of action or behaviour then it is fair to treat them accordingly - where their membership is based purely on the accident of their birth it is unfair.

        Your lack of understanding of the point of "discrimination" is rather disturbing. And kind of comedic also.

        "Employers normally pay for work already done and not for work which the employee is likely to do in the future, with the exception of sign-on bonuses or some other motivational incentives. "

        Where you come from maybe, however where I come from you tend to get a salary (and a banding) which covers work not done, as well as work done. This is especially relevant where we are talking about stuff like childbearing where plainly a woman is going to need a substantial time off work. You want to ask a grown up, they will tell you how things work, as long as you've been a good boy, that is.

        Once again your lack of intelligence is rather amusing. I hear your village calling........

        @Elmer Phud: RE: men taking time off work at the drop of a hat and women not doing so:

        You sir, are a dick. A dick I say.

    4. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      @Lee

      Three words: Statutory Paternity Leave.

      Granted, it's not as generous as the Maternity Leave, but the father also doesn't have to be pregnant and give birth. Also, unfortunately, young women ARE still often paid less than young men. This is a Well Known Problem. There are various reasons for this, ranging from misogyny to market forces, to gender bias in the job market (e.g. what percentage of nursery nurses are male? I'll give you a clue; it's not a large number). My general feeling on this is that society should pay for this as a whole, and women should be paid the same as men. I also think footballers should be paid the same as office cleaners, and politicians should work for free but unfortunately in a capitalist society, market forces have an effect so in cases you must legislate against them...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Loyal Commenter

        You want to re-read what I wrote and then re-write that diatribe^^

        Particularly where I specify "for the same job" but you then go on about different jobs. The clue is in the question. "same" go look it up. Or the bit where you seem to think paternity = maternity but then contradict yourself immediately?

        And where the fuck do you get all that crap about footballers from? Where on God's green earth did I write anything at all which makes that relevant? You want to spout commie bollocks, feel free, but please leave me the fuck out of it - we are talking about non-discrimination here not redistribution of the wealth and property being theft.

        1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

          @Lee

          Now you Assanged your argument even further...

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Insurance company CEO cracks open champagne....

    He now has an excuse to royally hammer all customers and point the finger at those evil Europeans.

    Well done, chaps! The caviar and stuffed envelope is in the post.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    if by Turmoil....

    you mean dancing, rejoicing and fapping over the extra money they are going to get then yes, since they will just up the prices for women, you have more chance of Gaddafi admitting he was a crap leader and stepping down than them putting the prices down.

    When i come to power insurance people are first up the wall to be shot.

    The epicness of this failure has more zeros on the end of it than a MEPs salary, after expenses.

  22. Rob Fisher
    FAIL

    Fixed

    ""On the contrary, it concerns cases in which different insurance risks can at most be associated statistically with gender," she said, completely failing to understand that this is exactly how insurance works.

  23. Scott 53
    WTF?

    Discrimination!

    Charging younger people more for insurance? isn't that age discrimination and therefore illegal too? Let's all pay £2,000 a year and be done with it.

  24. peyton?
    Flame

    Wow. Just wow

    I love all the slaves to statistics. You do realize stats just model right? They do not equate to reality. They can even be wrong *gasp*.

    Statistically, men are more likely to commit a crime than women. Hands-up for volunteers that want to be pre-emptively imprisoned based on gender.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    What about age?

    I've had a licence for 5 years, have 4 years no claims bonus, never had an accident (or any other claim) yet I'm paying 3x what my dad pays while driving a smaller, less powerful, and cheaper car, simply because I am 23. This is even though my dad wrote his car off in the snow last year...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Age is great innit

      Simple fact is, age has given him time to accumulate massive NCB, and he's probably able to afford to protect them too, given the low rates.

      Sucks being young, but we were all young once too, and we all mortgaged our souls to get the NCB's. A couple more years of safe driving, and you wonder what all the fuss was about.

      Now excuse me, while I pop out for a wee spin on my £193-per-year-full-comped BMW K1200S. While I'm still young enough to enjoy it.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lower claims by Women does NOT = better drivers

    This is the worst myth as insurance claims are all too often based on "who shunted into the back of who", it does not mean it wasn't the person in front who caused the accident in the first place!

    if I had a fiver for every time a woman driver in front of me cruising along at 30 slammed on the brakes because she suddenly saw a parking space about to open up almost causing a shunt I'd be a rich man!

    Personally, I am a driver that has never made a claim with 10+ years no claims on my insurance and a clean license, I know that both sexes can be as bad as each other. So lets charge them all the same.

    Discrimination based on stats is still discrimination, lets not have a double standard here, one standard is just fine.

    1. Elmer Phud
      FAIL

      Gender

      "if I had a fiver for every time a woman driver in front of me cruising along at 30 slammed on the brakes because she suddenly saw a parking space about to open up almost causing a shunt I'd be a rich man!"

      Well, I could replace the 'woman' bit with 'man' especially if it's when I'm riding my bike and not driving. If I had a fiver for every twat male that insists on using a phone while driving near my local school, I'd be well over £100 every day.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        RE; Gender

        True, I have seen that as well.

        Just goes to show both genders can behave like morons behind the wheels so neither deserves a discount based on it.

      2. sabroni Silver badge
        Stop

        if you can't stop when they slam on the brakes

        you're driving too close. Fact.

        I know nearly everyone does it, but it won't help when you try and make a claim. Back up!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          RE: Driving too close.

          Actually it doesn't show you are driving too close.

          Many cars don't have ABS and many others do, when it was introduced there was a statistical increase in the number of shunts because ABS cars stop a lot more sharply than normal.

          I don't tailgate, and I allow for plenty of room but even so some cars are more efficient at braking when someone slams on the pedals than others.

          the real question is how do you manage the risk of that.

          Do you charge drivers with cars that have ABS less because they are less likely to shunt anyone else, or do you charge them more because they are more likely to be shunted into by having it?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Gates Horns

      @AC - driving too close

      "if I had a fiver for every time a woman driver in front of me cruising along at 30 slammed on the brakes because she suddenly saw a parking space about to open up almost causing a shunt I'd be a rich man!"

      Here you admit you either don't pay enough attention or habitually try to drive up the exhaust of the car in front of you, you aggressive fool. He or she may need to stop suddenly at any time if a child or dog runs out in front anyway, and you have clearly not allowed enough space between you and the car in front for that possibility either.

      If I had a fiver for every arsehole who seems to want to bugger my exhaust I'd be a richer man than you ever would. Best technique in this situation is to slow down very gradually until the idiot behind learns the hard way that they will get from A to B a little more quickly if they allow a proper distance behind the car in front, especially if I am driving it.

      1. Just Thinking

        A bit extreme

        As much as I hate tailgaters, even the best driver can momentarily lose concentration. So slamming the anchors on at random does risk an accident, even if the person behind you is a reasonably good and careful driver.

        You would take that risk if a child ran out in front of you, but not just because you spotted a parking place.

      2. Liam Johnson
        Grenade

        driving too close???

        Sorry, can you point out the bit where he said he hit someone???

        Without that critical bit of text, I can't really see how you can come up with "Here you admit you either don't pay enough attention or habitually try to drive up the exhaust of the car in front of you, you aggressive fool."

        >>If I had a fiver for every arsehole who seems to want to bugger my exhaust

        But of course, that could never ever be a problem with your driving.

        >> Best technique in this situation is to slow down very gradually

        Here you admit you that you are an aggressive fool. Do you really think that driving with the express intention to annoy other road users, is not aggressive? Idiot.

  27. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Big Brother

    The dream to change reality towards the socialistic max-entropy worker's paradise advances!

    "The ECJ should eliminate the right to charge different prices based on the sex of the insured person"

    Because charging different prices is a _right_?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How's that unstable disequilibrium working out for us as a species?

      "Because charging different prices is a _right_?"

      In laissez-faire capitalism ... yeah, pretty much.

  28. Wommit
    Pint

    Insurance

    is the transference of risk. that's it pure and simple.

    If a person is within a group which the insurance companies have found to be a higher risk, then they will be charged more. This is irrespective of age gender colour or religion. If you are in a group which has shown itself to be a low risk then you will pay a reduced premium. The questions that you're asked on your application are all about identifying _precisely_ which group you belong in.

    Insurance companies have huge data sets to mine for this type of information and, in a hugely competitive market, they cut their margins as much as possible.

    If you wish to complain about sexual discrimination in insurance then have a go at companies like Sheila's Wheels, companies who only sell to a single gender.

    But complaining that you fit into a group which has a higher than average number of claims every year is pointless. Do something to get out of that group, take the advance drivers tests. That will lower your premium.

    But no, it's far easier to just whinge at the insurance companies and blame them.

    Yes, I am a DBA for an insurance / reinsurance company in the city.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Awww, poor little insurance industry

    I do feel sorry for them all, they'll just have to pick up their pencils and stick their little tongues out whilst they do the sums to figure out how they can a) make themselves the same profit as normal or more likely b) make even more profit than they used to.

    "Eureka! If we can't charge men more than women, we'll just charge women the same as men!"

    Give them each a gold sticker, on top of their annual bonuses, naturally...bless 'em!

    1. thesykes

      Re:Awww, poor little insurance industry

      that would a reasonable post, was it not for the fact that it is not the insurance industry making these changes, it is a Belgian consumer rights organisation pressing for them.

  30. Pete 2

    Only discriminatory until the first claim

    2 people apply for first-time car insurance. Both have just passed their test, neither has any criminal record nor has had a car accident. Should they pay the same amount of insurance, for the same cover? Until there's some DATA to say otherwise, the only realistic answer is yes.

    However, once one driver can be shown to be more careful/responsible/aware/lucky or the other one shown to be the opposite. the situation changes. At that time you now have the smallest amount of information on which to assess the risk involved in insuring these two people - you can now expect their insurance rates to change, however unfairly to reflect the new conditions. That is no longer discrimination, it's actuarial analysis. (Though with only one single datum, not very reliable but better than nothing - barely)

    So maybe we can expect a future where people start off by paying the same premiums for the same cover but very quickly, given the frequency that some individuals have accidents or cause claims, diverge in what their insurance costs. Maybe even to the point of it changing every few weeks depending on the miles they drive and the conditions (day/night/summer/winter/city/country) they encounter. Of course, all that extra administration would cost money, so premiums would inevitably go up, but at least the premiums would be fact-based.

  31. TonyHoyle

    If there was a genuine difference, the court would have ruled otherwise

    The insurers failed to demonstrate a statistical difference between male and female drivers, that couldn't be accounted for by other factors. Hence they lost. It's all spelled out in the ruling.

    The press have swallowed this 'men are worse drivers' line and repeated it ad infinitum but if this ruling proves anything it's that this is simply an urban legend trotted out by insurers to charge more.

  32. This post has been deleted by its author

  33. The BigYin

    Scrap insurance?

    Well, not scrap but turn on its head. What if insurance was a "club" and you stumped up £50 to join for a year. After a while, there would be pay outs for various incidents/costs and everyone's £50 wouldn't be enough, so the club debits money from you. So rather than paying for what /might/ happen, you pay for what /has/ happened.

    At the end of the year, you see how much "club" membership cost you. Too high? Change "clubs". Everyone within a "club" pays the same.

    Obviously the "clubs" need to compete on costs; lower costs, more demand. The "clubs" would need to risk assess each prospective member (a bit like insurance companies do now) and decide whether or not to allow them in. Rejected? Try a different "club", do more training etc. Want lower premiums? Don't drive like a tw@.

    Heck the "clubs" could even be owned by the members and run not-for-profit. Simple.

    Or am I simply being far to simple?

    1. Just Thinking

      Yes you are being too simple

      What if what /has/ happened is an unlikely, but catastrophic accident caused by a member of your club, and the payouts run into millions? More than the members can afford?

      The club would need to be underwritten. By an insurance company.

      At which point the club would become an insurance broker.

      True you *might* save a small amount if it was a not-for-profit insurance broker. If you can find someone who is capable of running it for you, who isn't already busy running a for-profit insurance broker.

  34. HollyHopDrive

    its ok audi drivers...

    You will still have your insurance multiplied by the number of your car.

    i.e.£250 x A4 = £1000 but £2000 for an A8 because when all this is said and done you are still a bunch of bell ends.

  35. A J Stiles
    Grenade

    Nationalise act-only insurance

    I think it's long beyond the time to nationalise act-only motor insurance, and fund it from general taxation as per the NHS.

    At least then there would be no such things as an uninsured driver.

    Car insurance premiums would fall, for those who wanted more comprehensive cover, as the government would be paying out for most third party claims.

    And if it is going to make that much of a difference to anyone's income tax bill, which I seriously doubt, non-car owners are a small enough minority to be compensated through the benefits system.

    1. The BigYin

      Put it on fuel

      The more you drive, the more fuel you use, the more insurance premium you pay.

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: Nationalise

        "and fund it from general taxation as per the NHS"

        The general taxation has been spent for decades in the future thanks to the Labour plutocrats. Where do you propose to get the money?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Risk Arsessment

    AIUI, the reason that men have more accidents (on average) than women is that (on average) they clock up more miles. Possibly even that (on average) women have more accidents/mile than men.

    On average.

    How about the insurance companies use the MOT database to look at the average mileage of the car for which the insuree is the main driver?

  37. Mark .

    It's still discrimination even if you can do something about it

    "it's discrimination if it is against something you can do nothing about (colour,gender,disability) - not something you can (religious identity, being an asshole)."

    I agree with your post in general, but this bit isn't quite right. It's discrimination if it's a judgement on things other than individual merit (although the law may go further and only protect certain types of discrimination).

    Refusing someone a room in your B&B because they are a Christian or atheist is still discrimnation - and would be illegal in the UK. Refusing someone a job would also be discrimination (and rightly so), unless it was relevant for a job (so Christianity can still be a requirement for being a vicar).

    This is also a wobbly argument, because you get people saying that whilst being gay isn't a choice, having sex is, so they'd claim they're still only discriminating on people who have had sex with the same sex (not to mention that some people will claim that being gay isn't a choice - they may be wrong, but the point is it shouldn't matter).

    ---

    "the actuarial models show that there is a distinctive probability bias between male and female with respect to risk, then that is likely to be the truth."

    Just because it's true doesn't stop it being discrimination. It certainly *isn't* true to say that therefore all women are better drivers than all men.

    1. The Commenter formally known as Matt
      Thumb Up

      mileage

      The various quotes I get from insurance companies always ask for an estimated annual mileage, (ok so its an estimate and often wrong but they are trying),

      perhaps it would be better to ask for the actual mileage on my car, or grab it from mot database as you suggest.

      Once they have estimated the risk of an individual knowing if they are doing 5k or 500k a year would be a big help!

  38. raving angry loony

    numbers might be out of whack though

    In the past 5 years

    - My car has been hit 4 times while stopped or parked.

    - Every time the driver of the other car was female.

    - Every time they offered to not involve the insurance company and could they pay cash.

    The first one I said "OK'. Then I realized I was cutting my own throat by helping them skew the numbers. The following I just said to talk to the insurance company and make sure the perpetrators were recorded.

    Still, I expect the insurance industry will moan and groan all the way to record profits as they increase the prices for women car drivers while not reducing the prices for men. Then they can say that they're screwing everyone equally.

    1. Russell Long
      Thumb Up

      Anecdote =/= data

      I've been shunted twice in three months. Both times it was a man.

      I have to say that this is probably the most hilarious thread I've read on The Register for quite some time. The amount of incoherent anger is truly awesome. You guys clearly don't have enough work to do.

      1. Liam Johnson

        incoherent anger

        The one about cyclists vs car users was even better!

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/02/28/traffic_light_report/

  39. dave 46

    It seems obvious but is government in bed with insurance firms?

    Pay 3rd party insurance claims from general taxation, increase fuel duty to pay for it.

    Those who drive further / faster / urban driving / big cars will pay more towards the cost of insurance, this is reasonable as they are a greater risk.

    Those who drive very little will pay less. It will also be a green policy as it makes public transport more afforable (the car isn't costing you as much if you're not driving it).

    The only reason I can think of for it not happening is the special interests of insurance companies who would be severely disadvantaged by only offering comprehensive cover in future.

  40. Figgus
    Troll

    De Nile is De River dat runs through De African continent

    So if a plan requires yearly tests based on gender (say, a pap smear for females) should the same be applies to males? After all, you can't treat them differently...

    Seems rather like denial to me.

  41. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Clear biological differences

    "The exception in question does not relate to any clear biological differences between insured persons,"

    Er, without wishing to enter the debate on insurance, I would like to point out a possible confusion here. You don't need to know *why* there's a difference in order to prove that there *is* one. Therefore, the biological differences can be "clear" without the underlying explanation being "clear". My guess is that the insurance companies have plenty of evidence for the former position. If they don't, they will surely be undercut in the marketplace by others with better actuaries.

    And if you want to consider this as a purely social/political decision, are you happy for motor insurance companies to continue to discriminate on the basis of age? Are you happy for *life* insurance companies to do so? Do you have any idea how many worms are in that can you just opened?

  42. Werner McGoole
    Stop

    Hang on a mo...

    I think there's a fundamental point being missed here.

    I can see that on the face of it charging a male more for car insurance than you charge a female may look like sex discrimination in favour of females. But you've only looked at half of the contract.

    The other half of the contract says that if you have an accident, the insurance company will pay you a big wad of cash. Being male (apparently) makes it more likely that you'll receive this cash, so males actually stand to benefit more than females from insurance payouts. So on this measure, the insurance contract discriminates in favour of males.

    So if the insurance company has its statistics right, gender-based risk assessment is, on average, not discriminatory. Both sexes will have the same expectation of net loss due to car accidents.

    Of course, males will still get a raw deal because they can expect to spend more time in hospital and are more likely to be killed, but that's apparently part of being male and not something you can legislate away.

    So what this ruling is actually doing is "positively discriminating" in favour of men to compensate them for this failing.

  43. Ooo-wait-BUT!
    Grenade

    tell me oh wonderous moderatrix, why oh why do i need to put a title here?

    I am not sure of all of the references cited for this statistical analysis but I did make one rather poignant observation last night: the statistics quoted all over the news made only regular and specific reference to:

    the average claim by a woman is £2.8k-ish, the average claim by a man is £4.3k-sh (or something like that - memory is a bit crap now I'm an addled 40something).

    NOW... Lets look at that critera again boys and girls... the AVERAGE CLAIM.

    That is not a measure of risk except to the insurance company (the risk that they might actually have to put their collective hand into their figuratively tiny pockets - see also "excess"). So... how many actual claims are made by each 'group' (average claim x number of claims = new inflated figure), what's the real average 'claim' (new inflated figure/52 = average weekly claim - only as a convenient term - daily, monthly, whatever)... oook!

    ...and what is the average 'payout', what reference is there to the number of miles travelled in getting to the scene of this 'claimable event' (average daily claim/number of miles travelled since last accident = reasonable measure of how incompetent a driver one is), and what percentage of these incidents was caused by the claimant? What, for example, is the average number of claims made by a group? I know, as a comparison, that MY average is quite low [sideswiped by cretin I was overtaking, T-boned and wrote off an emerging vehicle (mondeo estate) with a CX500, my beloved GSX1100 burned to liquid in someone else's garage fire - 3 claims in 30 years, average 30k miles per year] and note that in each of the three incidents I needed to claim for, MY insurance company paid out NOTHING (although they did once phone me up and ask if I would accept 50% blame because they had a reciprocal arrangement with the other firm... I asked what would happen to my premiums and the c**t on the phone went all quiet).

    Sexual persuasion, ethnicity, colour, age, height, religion, eating habits, number of hats (people aren't wearing enough of them, apparently), proximity to a chinese restaurant, the street where I live, the number of bedrooms in my house... have had no effect on my driving in 30 years. (yes okay - eating or having sex in the car whilst driving might increase my risk... but it does not MAKE me have an accident). Poor driving is what causes accidents, arrogance and impatience causes accidents; lack of awareness results in other drivers feeling obliged to do unexpected things to avoid one and the driver who instigates an accident does not always find themself involved in it.

    So as a final thought...

    If I drive down the road and a shadow darts out from the side I will brake instinctively. I might then realise it is only a black plastic bag full of cute little kittens and decide to accelerate again. If some arsewipe in an audi is tailgating me and collides during my braking maneouver... any claim investigation should find HIM at fault. If he brakes hard and avoids me but is hit by the tailgater behind HIM... the cause of the accident (AKA my over-reaction) is not included in the claim report because I drive on regardless and make no claim. As always... the purpose of the exercise is to generate profit, nothing more.

    [@TCFKAMatt, a few of your points # Posted Tuesday 1st March 2011 11:39 GMT - nice one]

  44. Arthur Dent
    WTF?

    This is nonsense

    The ECJ in its ruling is clearly stating that the decision of the European Parliament and the European Commission that the directive concerned would have national opt-outs not limited by time is something it is empowered to overrule - in other words, the legislators don't decide what the law is (neither the elected ones in the European Parliament no the appointed ones in the Commission), and no matter what the text of the law says the ECJ can say it means something completely different.

    How did we ever get here? It doesn't even matter whether the decision is a good one or a bad one in the sense that this discrimination should not or should be permitted, what matters is that this court has arrogated to itself the right to make new law whichdiirectly contradicts the laws put in place by the legislative bodies empowered by the various treaties to determine what the law shall be.

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