Women face higher insurance premiums if, as expected, the European Court of Justice opts to ban gender discrimination when assessing policy risk, both The Sunday Business Post and The Sunday Times report.

The Irish Insurance Federation (IIF) believes the anticipated ruling on Tuesday would have a significant bearing on premiums and argues the status quo is not about discrimination on gender; rather it is based on statistics.

“The argument from the market point of view is that it’s not a case of discriminating against one type of consumer,” said IIF chief executive, Michael Kemp. “Instead, it is a matter of differentiating between risk groups.”

At present, the Equal Status Act in Ireland allows gender-based rates to apply if actuarial evidence can be produced to back them up. If Europe turns this over, it will likely mean higher rates for women.

Motor insurance will be one of the major areas affected by the likely proposed new legislation because of the current substantial premium differences between men and women.

“Young women will be hit because their male equivalents currently pay 100% more for car insurance,” said Jonathan Hehir of CFM Group. “Premiums will probably meet somewhere in the middle.”

There will also be an impact on other products such as pensions and life cover – given the overwhelming statistical evidence that women live longer. Women may have to pay more for life assurance, even though they are less likely to claim because of their greater life expectancy.

Kemp says the ruling would distort the market.

“Our argument is that it is not fair for low-risk people to subsidise higher-risk ones,” he said.

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