feature: The (g)end(er) is nigh

clock

So, what are the knowns and unknowns of the forthcoming Gender and I minus E changes? Mark Jones takes us through a few wrinkles

As the clock ticks towards G-Day on 21 December 2012, we will read more articles and headlines about the Gender Directive. However, we can expect little coverage in the consumer press highlighting the issues and impacts on life, critical illness and income protection. It will be down to us – providers and advisers – to act as messengers.

The eye-catching and humorous headlines of the popular press are set to lambast the alleged straight banana-like political correctness of Brussels Eurocrats and preposterously unfair price hikes for female drivers.

Perhaps a sign of things to come, but only recently a ‘30-second guide to gender’ appeared in one of the prominent financial columns. It focused solely on car insurance, with only a footnote dedicated to pensions. Not even a whiff of the effects for life or health insurance. Sadly, we have to accept that life and heath insurance rarely make great headlines or good copy, but we will keep trying.

The desire for clarity, however…

There is a growing movement of interest within the industry around the EU Gender Directive. While the 21st of December is the date for implementation, uncertainty and murkiness remains around some of the finer – yet still important – detail. We were looking to the Treasury and UK legislation to offer more clarity.

However, we have only just had a chance to read the HM Treasury response to the EU Directive (a delayed and much-awaited document following consultation earlier in the year). In summary, it says the government cannot provide any further guidance, that it recognises the issues the industry faces and it will be for the courts to provide the needed clarity.

Not what we wanted, but also not unexpected. We now know as much as we will before G-Day, so it is time to just get on with it. Providers’ legal teams are set for a busy time.

21 December 2012 is set in stone for the EU Gender Directive. From that date all new policies, and any still in pipeline, must be written on gender neutral rates. There are no provisions for any transitional arrangements. So, if advisers want to make sure their clients get the premium they have been quoted for, the business must be completed by midnight, 20 December.

What is meant by ‘new contract’, ‘completed’ or ‘on risk’ is one of the finer details that will be down to individual insurers to determine. We can expect UK contract law will win out, but the eyes of the Eurocrats and courts will be on insurers attempting ‘creative’ interpretations.

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