Insurers have little to fear from the Equality Bill

I expect a huge amount of heat - and probably very little light - to be generated around the Equality Bill in the coming weeks. Despite the all too predictable complaints about burdens on business at a difficult time from the Institute of Directors and the British Chambers of Commerce I would imagine the more spectacular - and ill-informed - criticisms will come from private clubs when the (male) members get together over a gin and tonic tonight. Golf clubs especially are targeted for critcism in the ministerial notes accompanying the Bill.
As to the IoD and BCC, I am very disappointed at the pedestrian nature of their responses. If that is the best they can muster then they might as well not bother. There are actually relatively few immediate new 'burdens on business' as most of the more onerous requirements will kick in when we are well on our way to economic recovery even according to the more pessimistic forecasts.
Insurers are clearly winning their arguments and have their critics on the back foot. The notes published with the Bill specifically mention motor and travel insurance but the impact assessment does not make a very strong case for action against the industry. The figures produced by the industry's critics are almost laughable - they have estimated that the annual consumer detriment to older people of age discrimination in the provision of motor and travel insurance is in the range of £131m to £1180m. Such a huge range proves absolutely nothing and they would have done better to have spared themselves the embarrassment of publishing such poor research.
The industry is not totally off the hook, however. As I have said before the one area the industry will have to look at is the availability of travel insurance for the over-75s and this comes up again in the Bill and its supporting evidence. A Fairer Future, the report published alongside the Bill, says that in a survey conducted in Northern Ireland it was impossible to find annual travel cover for the over-75s. This is the industry's key vulnerability and the area that the ABI must work on with its members before the Bill reaches the House of Commons and, more particularly, the more elderly House of Lords where I know there are several peers of all parties waiting to raise this issue.
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