Written Answers. - Motor Insurance.

Noel Ahern


195 Mr. N. Ahern asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on discrimination on age grounds in relation to the loading of car insurance policies for people over 70 years of age; the way in which she can control or prevent such loading; and if there is any independent body to appeal cases to. [20032/00]

Motor insurance underwriting criteria are normally based on underwriting experience including trends in the level, frequency and cost of claims for particular risks and classes of risk and are a matter of judgment by individual private insurance companies. Any changes in circumstances affecting the risk insured would have to be assessed by the insurer from an underwriting standpoint and the premiums charged would reflect any material increase in the risk. Increasing use is being made by insurers of technology in segmenting risk categories into more discrete groupings.

While I understand that drivers over 70 do not necessarily represent a worse than average risk, each case is treated individually.

The Equal Status Act, 2000, sponsored by my colleague the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and which was enacted on 26 April 2000, prohibits discrimination in the non-employment area on grounds of age – and on eight other specified grounds – and it gives those who are discriminated against a statutory means of redress. The Act has a broad-ranging scope covering provision of goods and services including that of insurance.

However, under provisions in section 5(2)(d) of the Act, exemptions apply in the treatment of persons in relation to annuities, pensions, insurance policies or any other matters related to the assessment of risk provided there is reasonable actuarial or statistical data as the basis for those differences or other relevant underwriting or commercial factors.

Under section 25 of the Act, it is a matter for the Director of Equality Investigations to investigate complaints of discrimination. Once the Act is in operation, a complaint of alleged discrimination, on any of the discriminatory grounds, may be made to the office of the director.