A legal case advancing before the European Union is questioning whether auto insurers can continue to grant premium discounts to women drivers.

German Advocate General to the Court of Justice of the European Communities Juliane Kokott brought the case, saying the discounts the principle of equal treatment for men and women under European Union law.

“The Advocate General takes the view that it is legally inappropriate to link insurance risks to a person’s sex,” the court said in a statement. “Differences between people, which can be linked merely statistically to their sex, must not lead to different treatment of male and female insured persons when insurance products are developed. In that connection, the Advocate General points out, in particular, that gender is a characteristic that, like race and ethnic origin, is inseparably linked to the insured person as an individual and over which he has no influence. In addition, a person’s gender, unlike, for instance, his age, is not subject to any natural changes.”

Though limited to the EU, the case echoes battles being fought in the U.S. over what variables underwriters can use when determining premiums. The issue of whether the use of credit scoring in underwriting is discriminatory is being debated vigorously at the state level.

What not subject to dispute is that male drivers are costlier to insurance companies than female drivers. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control noted that more men were killed (70%) and injured (52%) in motor vehicle crashes than women. Moreover, injuries and deaths among men represented 74% of all claims costs.


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