Opinion Editorial

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Insurance ruling is not justice

THERE is a joke in an old Jane Fonda movie where she wants to complain to the Equality Commission because men age more attractively than women. Perhaps it is not a joke any longer, after the extraordinary ruling from the European Court of Justice on insurance.

Its ruling that EU law does not allow safer women drivers to be charged less than riskier male ones will confirm the fears of those who said the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the Lisbon Treaty would turn into a nightmare of political correctness.

In an ideal world, no doubt each individual driver would be assessed on the risk they posed and charged accordingly. But no such world exists. Indeed, the whole point of insurance is that it measures collective risk so that everyone can be covered. Insurance companies used to be too unsophisticated to charge according to risk. It was hailed as a great breakthrough when safer drivers could pay less and dangerous ones were deterred by higher premiums. Now that has been overturned.

The implications for pensions are even more nonsensical. No one disputes that women live longer than men. Meaning pensions cost more. Charging them more, however, may now be discrimination.

One danger is that companies will use this ruling to increase margins.

That must be watched. But it should never have come to this.

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