Has equality gone mad?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for liz blog.jpgTo say that the European Court of Justice's decision to no longer allow insurance companies to use gender in the calculations of premiums has been met with criticism would certainly be the understatement of the week.

Branded "utter madness" and "a setback for common sense", it would seem that a majority of people are finding it difficult to understand the logic behind the decision.

Normally, ending any kind of discrimination gets a big thumbs up. Equal rights, be it in terms of race, religion or sex, have been something people have felt so strongly about that they have been prepared to give up their lives for the cause.

When considering these plights, motor premiums suddenly seem rather less emotive but with prices set to rise by 25% for young women, there are sure to be some tears and tantrums when the new rules kick in December 2012 or perhaps even earlier . Especially when male van drivers could see their premiums drop by 10%.

I was trying to decide how I felt about it all and with me that usually involves finding out what everyone else thinks first. While developing an opinion I happened upon a survey which unsurprisingly found that only 22% of women thought ending gender discrimination was fair while 74% of men believed it was a good decision.

Hmm...the results suggest that the respondents were not really thinking ethically here but more about their pockets. In theory surely ending gender discrimination is a good idea? Isn't it? Well that depends on what discrimination really means.  Generally it is understood that it means to treat one group less favourably than another but that doesn't really seem to apply here. The ruling effectively will level the playing field between male and female drivers - everyone will be equal but as we all know, some will always be more equal than others.

Does your sex really affect the way you drive? I might not be popular among my fellow sisters but I happen to think it does. Yes it is a generalisation to say that young men are more aggressive while women hesitantly err on the side of caution but these stereotypes exist for a reason; they haven't been plucked out of the air. And it seems a bit ridiculous not to take this all into account when calculating premiums.

Maybe it is a case that if women, or anyone for that matter, genuinely want equality then they have to swallow the pill whole- they can't choose to opt in and out. Everyone goes on about the attitude of women who want to be treated equally at work but then still expect the door to be opened for them when they leave in the evening. Maybe this is an example of seeing the big picture and raises the wider question of whether equality can ever really be achieved. Heavy.

Anyway, pushing my troubled feminist notions aside, the whole ruling thing is likely to be good news for brokers as chances are it will push motor premiums up. Maybe everyone really ends up thinking about pockets over principles at the end of the day.


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