Insurers to treat civil partnerships and marriages equally

03.09.2007

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is proposing to abolish the exemption for insurers to current sexual orientation regulations.

The body has come to the conclusion that there is now no need for the insurance industry to differentiate between customers in civil partnerships and married couples.

The move comes as a part of the ABI's response to the government's consultation into its discrimination law review.

Nick Starling, ABI director general of insurance and health, said: "The insurance industry is united against discrimination and in support of treating people fairly.

"Insurers base their treatment of all customers on a fair and objective analysis of the risks they represent. It is sensible to differentiate, for instance, in the case of age or gender. But we do not seek exemptions where there is no case for one; there is no need for the law to provide for different treatment between civil partnerships and marriages."

Alan Wardle, director of public affairs at gay rights campaign group Stonewall, gave his support to the move from the ABI.

He said: "We trust the government will repeal [the exception] at the earliest opportunity. Insurance premiums should be based on someone's behaviour rather than their sexual orientation."

The proposals are part of ABI's increasing work with the gay community.

Earlier this year the body issued a guide to dispel some of the myths associated with life insurance in the gay community.

Applications for life insurance no longer ask about sexuality, HIV risk or if an applicant is gay.

One of the main misconceptions is that if a person has had an HIV test they must declare in life insurance applications. Only if a test has been positive must it be declared, along with any other existing medical condition.

Chris Morgan, member of the ABI's Expert Working Group on HIV and Insurance, said: "It's very important that the new sexual orientation regulations do not overshadow the positive changes that have already been made for gay men within the life insurance industry.

"The HIV and Insurance guidelines introduced by the ABI require insurance companies to treat gay men fairly when applying for life assurance products already. Therefore, the exemption contained within the new legislation should be removed."