Friday, 25 February 2011

Men and Women are different, you know

Insurance pricing relies heavily on statistics. Men pay more for life insurance than women because the statistics show women tend to live longer. Women pay more for Income Protection because the statistics show that women tend to suffer more medium and long-term illnesses than men.

However, last year the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice claimed that it is legally inappropriate to price insurance products according to a person's gender. Next Tuesday, 1st March 2011 the Court is due to rule on this issue.

Depending on the ruling, this could mean that males and females get charged the same for insurance and assurance products going forward. It could even mean that existing policies need to be re-priced to harmonise for gender, although that would be a massive and costly undertaking, with potential challenges from people who have fixed cost contracts.

My guess would be that in the short term, insurance companies are unlikely to bring prices down. What are the bets we see costs of life insurance going up for women and costs of Income Protection going up for men, if rates need to be harmonised for gender?

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