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Insurance services - when discrimination is allowed

This advice applies to England

The law which says you mustn't be discriminated against is called the Equality Act 2010. Discrimination which is against the Act is unlawful.

Generally speaking insurance providers aren't allowed to discriminate against you. But sometimes it's lawful for an insurance provider to discriminate against you because of your age or if you're disabled.

Read this page to find out more about when an insurance provider is allowed to discriminate against you.

When can insurance providers discriminate against you if you're disabled?

Risk assessments

An insurance provider can discriminate against you if there's a greater insurance risk because of your disability. This means they can use your disability to decide whether to offer you insurance and on what terms it’s being offered.

But they must base their risk assessments on information from a reliable source and one which is relevant to the product they are providing - for example, statistics. You can challenge an insurance provider if you think a risk assessment isn't based on a reliable or relevant source of information.

Blanket policies

Insurance providers are not allowed to have blanket or general policies of refusing to provide insurance or only providing insurance on certain terms, to disabled people. This would be unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act.

Example

You have cancer and apply for car insurance. Cancer counts as a disability under the Equality Act. The insurance company accepts to provide you with car insurance but only if you pay a higher premium than they would charge other drivers.

The insurance company is allowed to do this under the Equality Act but only if they can show that there's a greater risk in insuring you because of your disability. They would have to base their decision on your actual health condition and objective information about cancer. Also they mustn't have a general policy to charge people with cancer more as this would be unlawful discrimination.

Other financial services

Other financial services like mortgages or banking services are not covered by the insurance exception. Providers of financial services are only allowed to discriminate against you in relation to insurance services. For example, if a bank says you can’t open a bank account or you can't get a mortgage because you’re disabled this is unlawful discrimination.

Discrimination because of age

Insurance providers can also sometimes discriminate against you because you're a younger or older customer.

Insurance contracts made before 21 December 2012

Insurance contracts made before 21 December 2012 can also discriminate against you because of your sex or because you're pregnant by applying different premiums and benefits under the insurance policy.

Next steps

You can find more information about your consumer rights including insurance services in the consumer section:

Other useful information

Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS)

If you have experienced discrimination, you can get help from the EASS discrimination helpline.

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

You can find useful information about discrimination on the EHRC website at

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