State amendment eliminates gender as rating actor in disability insurance

The Senate adopted the budget amendment Wednesday in an effort to improve gender equality

Insurance News

By Lyle Adriano

Thanks to a budget amendment adopted Wednesday by the Senate, gender is no longer a variable that insurance companies can use to determine the cost of disability insurance.

"This amendment really boils down to a simple question and that is, when determining what insurance premiums are paid, should two people who are the same age, have the same occupation, both of whom are non-smokers, the only difference is one is a man and the other is a woman, should those two people pay the same or different premiums for their insurance?" asked Sen. Jason Lewis on the Senate floor.

The amendment, number 668, was endorsed by Lewis. It dealt only with disability insurance purchased in the individual market, although the senator remarked that life insurance is currently allowed to use gender as a rating factor.

According to the senator, a woman pays 23 percent more than a man in disability insurance premiums. In some cases, she might even pay as much as 60% more for the same coverage.

"That is, I believe, an unfair burden on women and on families and it is frankly discriminatory," he commented.

Sen. Vinny deMacedo challenged Lewis, asking if he thinks "these companies just don't like women and want them to pay more? Or does the gentleman think there could be an actuarial reason for it?"

While Lewis admitted that there exists an actuarial difference in the average annual payouts for men and women, he argued that "you could do those same calculations along the lines of race or religion," and insurers are not allowed to use such factors to determine costs.

The amendment passed on a 32-6 vote, reported.

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