It is two years since the European Union announcement regarding gender equalisation. In the weeks following the announcement, there was considerable media speculation about how insurers might differentiate their treatment of one sex or the other, to encourage the right mix of business.
Ideas include gender-specific commission rates, new underwriting factors, developing gender-specific critical illness products, or even “Sheila’s Wheels” style marketing aimed at one sex or the other.
Speculation centred around the extent to which an insurer might do so, whether doing so would leave the insurer open to the risk of being accused of indirect discrimination, or the risk that customers might select against insurers.
We are now two years on. What has happened? In the life insurance space, it does not seem like much. In Ireland, we have seen Irish Life offering added payments on term assurance with a sum assured in excess of €25,000.
For these policies, there is an extra payment of €5,000 upon diagnosis of five specific conditions that might arise during pregnancy. Clearly, these payments can only be paid to women. Would this be enough to encourage a young female to buy a life insurance policy with Irish Life, and would this skew the gender mix? Arguably, it might.
Probably not surprisingly, we have seen more innovation in the general insurance space, where young males previously typically pay double the premium of ‘identical’ young females. A favourite is a new general insurance brand: www.drivelikeagirl.com. Branded in pink with a heart over the “i” in girl, the company is clearly targeting young females. As it says on the tin, premiums will be cheaper if you drive like a girl.
The practice of using telematics technology – a black box under the bonnet provided by the company – monitors the insured’s driving and in particular speed of acceleration. If it falls within certain parameters – that is, if you ‘drive like a girl’ – you get a discount on premium rates, paid quarterly in arrears.
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