Skip to main content
padlock icon - secure page this page is secure

Open Access The right to underwrite gender

Download Article:
(HTML 59.8 kb)
(PDF 147.9 kb)

When does gender-based differentiation in insurance practice constitute discrimination? In life insurance, gender is used as a primary factor in risk selection. Private life insurance has long been a tool of inclusion and exclusion of clients via its process of risk selection and distributive mechanisms, which creates a series of questions relating to biological classification, difference, equality, discrimination, solidarity, and governance. The realm of insurance medicalises gender by treating it as a statistical factor in determining longevity, differential disease susceptibilities, and even treatment outcomes. In this article, the authors examine whether differentiation based on a sex/gender system constitutes discrimination under European Union law. Specifically, this article covers the Goods & Services Directive (2004/113), commonly referred to as the ‘Gender Directive’, which was adopted in 2004 and implemented by all EU member states before 2007. By examining EU documents, insurance trade journals, presentations, joints responses, and recommendations from equality and consumer groups from 2004-2014, this article examines the effects of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling and ensuing European Commission guidelines from Case C- 236/09 Test-Achats (2011-2012) regarding gender-based risk-rating practices in private insurance pricing. In its ruling, the ECJ invalidated Article 5(2) of the Gender Directive per 21 December 2012, raising renewed questions as to how gender should be used by insurers in their actuarial tables and underwriting assessments, especially when deciding whether to reject or accept applicants. It further contextualises this information in EU non-discrimination law and assesses trends of favouring lifestyle factors over biological traits.
No References for this article.
No Supplementary Data.
No Article Media
No Metrics

Keywords: EU; difference; discrimination; equality; gender; insurance; law; risk

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Lisa M. Rebert MPhil is an independent researcher and writer with several publications relating to gender, biology, difference making, and the social and political implications of biomedical technologies. Lisa holds cum laude degrees in the social sciences from Vassar College (USA) and humanities from Utrecht University (The Netherlands). After completing her Research Master in Gender in Ethnicity under the guidance of Prof. dr. emeritus Gloria Wekker, she later worked as a Researcher under Dr Ine Van Hoyweghen at the Department of Health, Ethics & Society (HES) in CAPHRI School for Public Health & Primary Care at Maastricht University. They participated in the European COST Network on Bio-objects and conducted research largely focused on insurance practices, genetic discrimination, and issues of solidarity., Email: [email protected] 2: Dr. Ine Van Hoyweghen is a Research Professor at the Centre for Sociological Research (CeSO) at KU Leuven. She holds a PhD in Social Sciences (2004) from KU Leuven, which was published as the book Risks in the Making. Travels in Life Insurance and Genetics (Amsterdam University Press, 2007). She was a Marie Curie Fellow at the Science and Technology Studies Unit (SATSU) at York University, a Postdoctoral Fellow and Assistant Professor at Maastricht University, and a Visiting Fellow at the Centre of Sociology of Innovation (CSI), Ecole des Mines de Paris. Ine joined the Centre for Sociological Research (CeSO) at KU Leuven in 2013 where she runs the Life Sciences and Society Lab and is a Member of the Young Academy of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts (KVAB). Her research interests lie in the sociology of biomedicine, science and technology studies, sociology of innovation, and social and political theory., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: December 1, 2015

More about this publication?
  • Het Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies is het forum voor de wetenschappelijke problematisering van sekse in relatie tot andere vormen van discriminatie en uitsluiting zoals etniciteit, seksualiteit, klasse of leeftijd. Er worden artikelen in gepubliceerd over gendervraagstukken vanuit alle relevante disciplines die een wetenschappelijke bijdrage leveren aan debatten over gender en intersectionaliteit in Nederland en Vlaanderen. Het tijdschrift is een interdisciplinair medium op het kruispunt van maatschappij-, cultuur-, geestes-, gezondheids- en natuurwetenschappen. Het verschijnt vier keer per jaar en biedt wetenschappelijke artikelen en daarnaast ook interviews, boekrecensies, discussiedossiers en opiniërende artikelen in het Nederlands en Engels. Artikelen worden dubbelblind beoordeeld door externe deskundigen.

    The Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies (Journal of Gender Studies) is a Dutch language forum for the scientific problematisation of gender in relation to ethnicity, sexuality, class, and age. The journal aims to contribute to debates about gender and diversity in the Netherlands and Flanders. The journal is an interdisciplinary medium operating at the intersection of society, culture, the humanities, health and science. The editorial staff is open to articles about gender issues from different disciplines, and also accepts English articles. As well as publishing articles, the journal includes essays, columns (short topical and polemical articles), interviews, reviews, summaries of dissertations and conference reports. Articles are subjected to a double blind peer review process.
  • Editorial Board
  • Information for Authors
  • Back issues, 1980-2012
  • Become a friend of this journal
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more