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European gender directive

European Gender Ruling and Insurance

November 2012

The European Court of Justice has ruled that from 21st December 2012, insurers can no longer consider someone's gender when calculating individual premiums and benefits. The ruling applies to new policies and renewals to policies.

Which types of insurance policies will be affected?

The ruling will affect insurance policies that usually factor in a customer's gender when premiums or benefits (a pension income) are calculated. This includes:

  • Car insurance including Young Driver insurance and ecoinsurance
  • Retirement income products, such as annuities
  • Life and health insurance

See below for answers to how the ruling affects these products.

Will my current car insurance policy be affected?

Premiums for policies that renew on or after the 21st December 2012 will be calculated without using gender as a way to price car insurance. These changes will be implemented by us, you don't need to do anything. You can still make changes to your existing policy as you do now.

Check our car insurance fees and charges that will apply for certain changes and also how cancellations may affect your No Claim discount.

Check our Young Driver car insurance fees and charges that will apply for certain changes. Watch our video that explains how the directive affects Young Driver car insurance.

Check our ecoinsurance fees and charges that will apply for certain changes.

When will new car insurance policies change?

The premium for any policy that comes into effect on or after 21st December 2012 will be calculated without gender affecting the price. If you get a quote from us in the weeks leading up to the change, please ensure that you check how long it is valid for as we are unable to guarantee a quote after the 21st December 2012.

This ruling will affect new annuities being put into payment from 21st December 2012. An annuity is set up at the point of retirement in order to convert pension benefits into a regular retirement income.

How will it affect annuities?

Men, on average, do not live as long as women. As a result of this shorter life expectancy, they have traditionally benefitted from better annuity rates than women, giving them a bigger income in retirement for the same retirement cash fund.

From 21st December 2012, annuities must be calculated on gender neutral rates. This means your gender cannot be taken into consideration when calculating annuity income.

In general, annuity rates are likely to fall for men but could improve for women. This means men could get a lower annuity income and women could get a higher annuity income.

It is important to note, however, that if your CIS pension policy includes either Guaranteed Annuity Rates or other guarantees, these will not be affected as these guarantees are a historical right under your policy.

Existing annuities in payment will not be affected.

How will this affect me?

Gender is only one of a number of factors that we (and our panel of annuity providers) use to price annuities. Annuity rates are also determined by general economic circumstances, which have been very volatile over the last 12-18 months.

We cannot therefore predict in advance how these changes will affect you. Annuity rates will normally only be confirmed when you have selected how you wish to take your retirement benefits and returned an application to us.

Should I delay or bring forward my retirement?

We cannot advise you on this. Your gender is only one factor used in determining your retirement income, and changes in economic circumstances could have a much bigger effect on annuity rates than these changes. So if you defer or bring forward your retirement, it might not result in the change to your retirement income that you are expecting.

Please remember, if your CIS pension policy includes either Guaranteed Annuity Rates or other guarantees, these will not be affected, as these guarantees are a historical right under the policy.

However, if you do decide to bring forward your retirement, you may lose the right to the higher level of pension income that your Guaranteed Annuity Rate could provide.

Where can I get more information?

If you are already taking financial advice, you should speak to your financial adviser who will be able to give you more information. Alternatively, if you require advice on taking your pension benefits but don't have a financial adviser, you can find one near to you by visiting http://www.unbiased.co.uk/.

For free impartial information and guidance on all pension matters you can also phone The Pensions Advisory Service on 0845 601 2923^.

If you have an existing life or health policy with The Co-operative Insurance, there will be no change to the premium you currently pay unless you need to make changes to the policy.