On 20 June, the Commission’s Gender Forum, which brings together Member States' representatives, equality bodies, the insurance industry, actuaries and civil society organisations, met to discuss the implications of the recent ruling on the Test-Achats case (C-236/99). This judgment ruled that Article 5(2) of Directive 2004/113/EC is invalid with effect from 21 December 2012. While the aim of this meeting was to gain a better understanding of the implications of this judgment for Member States and the insurance industry, AGE was disappointed that the discussions - which focused on addressing implementation issues, possible uses of the gender factor under Article 5(2) and the impact for pensions - were dominated by the anglo-saxon industry perspective. The results of these discussions are supposed to be reflected in a Commission’s report on the implementation of the Directive to be adopted by the end of the year, and AGE hopes that a more balanced discussion will take place in the next meeting of the Forum with opportunity provided to address what other countries - who have gone much further than the UK - have done and to share and learn from their experience.
In AGE’s view, this Court of Justice ruling will mean a significant difference for older women in terms of pensions and private health insurance. We believe that as older women receive less pay than men and are living longer but have the same bills, they should receive the same benefits. Furthermore, these insurances are now even more necessary for women because of changes in public provision and the general trend to move towards defined contributions and away from defined benefits, but the problem remains that not enough women are buying them.
Following a question from AGE on whether industry would agree that changing provider counts as taking out a contract with a new provider, the Commission confirmed that if an individual moves to a new provider after 21 December 2012, they will be considered as taking out a new contract. AGE consider that when a company is bought out by another, these new rules should also apply. Furthermore, AGE raised its members concerns that since the newer Member States have younger markets, life insurance products in these countries have developed differently, not least due to their lack of history of collecting data. AGE has asked if the Commission could make data available to these players in order to avoid them being forced out of the market.
The Commission is also conducting a written consultation (deadline 15 July) which AGE is responding to with the support of its non-discrimination and social protection experts. The Commission indicated that an outcome of these discussions could be an Interpretative Communication and that agreed guidelines should be issued to facilitate implementation of Article 5 of this Directive.