EU's Double Whammy for Women's Insurance Mar04
A new EU measure
designed to ensure equality for men and women could end up costing the
average woman in Britain an extra £100 a year. The proposal calls for
equal treatment for men and women in the supply of goods and services, but
at the moment women benefit from lower car insurance rates and lower life
Women are seen as safer
drivers by the insurance industry because they tend to drive shorter
distances, have lower annual mileages and tend to drive more slowly. The
EU proposals under discussion would make it illegal for companies to take
into account differences between men and women as drivers, when setting
premiums. This could mean that women's car insurance could rise by between
10 and 15 %.
This week, in the EU
parliament's Industry Committee in Strasbourg, Eastern Region Conservative
MEP, Bashir Khanbhai, supported amendments designed to exclude insurance
from the measure and to maintain favourable terms for women. In a very
tight vote, the amendments were lost because Labour
and Liberal Democrat MEPs voted against them.
The proposal still has
to go through further stages before it becomes law. Commenting on the
vote, Mr. Khanbhai said:
"The insurance industry is in business to offer cover
for risk of specific drivers with respect to gender, age, profession, type
of vehicle, value of vehicle and geographic location. To exclude one of
these factors arbitrarily will distort pricing, and disadvantage women who
currently enjoy lower rates. Like
any other business, insurers should be free to price their product
according to their estimation of cost for the risk covered.
"Equal rights for men and women are indisputable.
However, equal rights do not mean identical needs or responses. Gender
equality is important in areas such as education and employment but it is
inapplicable in assessing risk for motor or life insurance.
"If this measure goes through its later stages and
becomes law, women in Eastern Region
will know that the higher rates they pay are down to their Labour and
Liberal Democrat MEPs".