Insurers could be prevented from using age, health and any other form of differentiation to underwrite and price products if a French administrative authority has its way.
The Halde (Haute Autorité de Lutte contre les Discriminations et pour l'Egalité) equal opportunities body has already issued public recommendations to the France insurance market and has encouraged the prosecution of any illegitimate discrimination.
According to international lawyers Norton Rose, the authority has also refused to take into consideration insurers explanations concerning market segmentation and suggested using these discriminatory criteria could lead to prohibitive prices which deprive some people of access to coverage.
It wants to close the French and European legal loopholes that allow insurers narrow use of discrimination criteria for risk assessment and pricing.
This would restrict actions far more than simply around the use of gender that is currently being considered by the European Court of Justice, a decision that is expected on 1 March.
French courts can impose sentences of up to three years and fines of €45,000, but the Halde is attempting to strengthen its cooperation with prosecuting authorities, and on 3 January it entered into a cooperation agreement with the Paris Prosecuting Attorney.
It has also called on insurers to improve the tools that are already used on the French market.
As Norton Rose explained: "Halde is due to merge with four other French administrative authorities whose aim is to promote human rights, but no-one yet knows whether the current focus on discriminatory factors in insurance pricing will or will not be maintained following the merger.
"Currently, there is no indication that Parliament will introduce a bill to support the Halde's non-discriminatory agenda - even if French MPs are sensitive to the fight against discrimination," it added.
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