Following a ruling by the European Court of Justice in March, the Government waited until early December before issuing its promised consultation document on how insurers can use gender as a risk factor in the light of the judgment.
The ECJ ruled that the use of gender as a risk factor by insurers should not result in individual differences in premiums and benefits for men and women, with effect from 21 December 2012.
The Government continues to believe this judgment is detrimental for consumers, but there is an obligation to implement it into law.
In making the consultation open until the end of February 2012, the government is not leaving much time to implement UK law.
If the government does not make new law very quickly in 2012, it could leave insurers in possible breach of EU law.
The European court ruling merely confirmed that a delay to allow insurers across Europe, including the UK, to change their ways, meant that much earlier EU laws on having no gender differences should have been enforced.
It seems that the issue has become tangles up in the UK/EU political squabbles. This is very dangerous for insurers, as European courts would pursue them, not the government!
The consultation reiterates the Government’s legal interpretation that the judgment applies only to new contracts entered into after 21 December 2012, so existing contracts are not affected.
It seeks views on this legal interpretation and the accompanying draft regulations.
That a government is asking others for their view of a legal interpretation that it ought to be clear on just defies belief.
The consultation waffles on about impact and seeks extra data. Which is all rather pointless as the EU ruling is so simple that even a politician should be able to understand it.
Men and women should not be charged different premiums, given different policy terms, given different excesses or in any other way treated differently when seeking an insurance quote for any type of insurance – Simples !