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Sinead Ryan: We'll all pay more if premiums are based on feelings

The PC brigade must be out in force in Europe again after it handed down one of the daftest judgments in years. The European Court of Justice has confused fairness with equality and ordered that insurance companies will no longer be allowed to use gender as a basis for risk assessment.

Women live longer than men. This is a statement of fact, not an opinion. They live almost five years longer.

Actuarial tables and censuses, not given to hype or political correctness, make this obvious.

If you are putting by a pot of money for a woman's retirement, it had better be a bigger one than her husband's. Likewise, if you think you might be paying out on the chance that she's going to pop her clogs, she's a safer bet than himself.

Insurance works on facts and figures, not feelings. Somebody in Europe 'feels' people are being discriminated against when insurance contracts are being drawn up.

They are not -- they are being charged an appropriate premium for the risk which they bring to the insurance pot. In the same way older people will die before younger people and are charged more for this, men and women are charged differently too.

If insurers can no longer use this basis for calculating premiums then they will simply charge more for everyone.

This is precisely what happens in our medical health system -- how are your VHI premiums working out for you?

The ruling means that a young female nurse driving a Nissan Micra to work in Dublin is deemed 'equal' to a 19-year-old boy racer tearing around the back roads of Donegal in a souped-up sports car. They are not equal. Indeed, young male drivers pay up to 50pc more for car insurance precisely because they are, statistically, a higher risk. Nobody 'feels' this -- it is so. It can be proven many times over by claims' desks.

And this is not just a women's issue: although it will invariably make all insurance more expensive for them: men will lose out big time on the pensions front. Currently a man gets a bigger pension from his "pot" of money that he saves up all his working life for than a woman. He's not expected to be around to collect it for as long -- it mightn't sound nice, but there's nothing sentimental about it.

So now, because he's been ruled "equal" to the longer living woman, from December 2012 he'll be getting a smaller pension than he's entitled to. The insurance company must now "assume" that, magically, his life expectancy has increased. It hasn't.

I do hope this ridiculous ruling is challenged. It makes no sense at all and we'll all be paying more as a result.