Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Why the ECJ would be wrong in declaring insurance differences discriminatory

We all await a ruling by the European Court of Justice today on whether charging different rates of insurance between men and women is discriminatory.

On the blunt face of they would be right to do so. If you take my post regarding Homosexual discrimination to a logical conclusion it is discriminatory to differentiate on the basis of something you can't change (or at least not easily).

Therefore doing so between men and women is as equally wrong as between white and black or European and Asian. So as an example it would still be logical to charge a different life insurance premium for a stunt performer as they can change their profession to something less dangerous. It would be logical to charge a different health premium to a smoker as they have the option to quit; and it would therefore also be logical to charge a different health premium to someone with a history of cancer in their family.

Except in the case of the latter that's something that can't be changed. In this instance why could it be called discrimination to alter a premium based on sex; but not if it were based on family circumstances?

The answer is that the differences are not based on these things directly; but indirectly as a consequence of sex; condition; or age. No one would disagree that an infant should receive a different strength of medicine to that given to an adult, but isn't that ageist? No because the dosage is based on biological factors including body mass that are simply a result of being an infant. An adult midget or dwarf might share the same body mass as the majority of children and thus in some respects would be treated identically to them rather than to the majority of adults.

In terms of insurance the underlying basis of what you pay is based on statistics. If the statistics say that women are less likely to be the cause of a vehicular incident compared to a man; then they receive a lower premium because of that and not because they're women.

The extreme of anti-discrimination is pretending that there are no differences between men and women (white and black, European and Asian) when there are. The real question is are you treating them differently because of what they are or because what they are results in actual measurable differences?


Anonymous said...

ah-um http://www.kidderminstershuttle.co.uk/news/8802409.Kidderminster_to_host_new_Race_for_Life_event/

FlipC said...

Ah-hum :-)

Now if this were a race for Breast Cancer Research that would be different; likewise if it were a competitive race due to actual measurable physiological differences. But it's not.

Kid Rock Tickets said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lesley said...

Let's say all insurance forms had a question 'Width of nose?' and they found statistically that some people with certain sized noses make less claims than others, so they adjusted premiums accordingly. Would you call that discrimination?

Now after the ECJ ruling I might never answer the 'Gender' question again, I know it's silly but from now on why do they need to know?

FlipC said...

Lesley this makes my point. They're not giving women lower premiums because they're women; they're doing so because as a group women make less claims.

From the point of view of the insurers you could substitute the group titled women for one titled wide noses and the outcome would be the same.