EU court bans gender linked insurance policies

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EU court bans gender linked insurance policies

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The European Court of Justice has ruled there should be no more sex discrimination in insurance policies.

It said insurance companies cannot take gender into account when setting premiums and paying out benefits from annuities and retirement savings or for accident cover.

The decision by Europe’s top court could increase the costs of women’s accident insurance and boost their retirement income from annuities. It could also make men worse off.

A new EU directive, with major implications for the insurance sector, will now come into effect from 21 December 2012.

The transitional period would allow EU member states to decide what action to take on domestic laws and give companies a chance to adjust and find ways to mitigate the knock-on effect.

Insurance analysts say the ruling could boost women’s retirement income by up to 10 percent.

Insurers currently pay retired men who have purchased an annuity more than women, on the basis that on average they die younger — on average three years earlier.

Ending the gender disparity in annuities will affect insurers like Britain’s Legal and General and Prudential, France’s Axa and Allianz of Germany.