From 21 December 2012, insurance premiums and benefits may no longer be based solely on the criterion of gender, but will continue to vary in terms of overall risk. This is how the European Commission interprets the ruling by the EU Court of Justice (Test Achats case) in a non-binding communication published on 22 December 2011, which applies only to contracts concluded after 21 December 2012.

"By adopting these guidelines a full year ahead of the deadline to comply with the court's ruling, we have lived up to our commitment. It is now up to the insurance industry to ensure that there is a smooth transition to fully equal treatment of men and women in insurance," commented Viviane Reding, commissioner for fundamental rights and citizenship.

On 1 March 2011, the EU court held in Case C-236/09 (Test Achats ruling) that the derogation from Directive 2004/113/EC on equal treatment, allowing member states to maintain a distinction between men and women for premiums and benefits, constituted discrimination. It struck down the measure with effect from 21 December 2012.

The European Commission's guidelines aim to help the insurance sector apply the rule of unisex premiums. They clarify gender-related practices that can still be used and the types of contracts concerned. The Commission adds details: the Court of Justice ruling does not mean that women will always have to pay the same premiums as men since prices will continue to reflect decisive risk factors. It states only that gender alone may no longer be considered as a decisive risk factor. The Commission also mentions examples of insurance practices based on gender differentiation that are compatible with the principle of unisex premiums and benefits and that will not have to be changed due to the Test Achats ruling. These practices are quite varied, ranging from the calculation of technical provisions to reinsurance pricing, medical underwriting or targeted marketing. Currently, gender is a risk factor...

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