The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is proposing the abolition of exemptions in insurance law regarding sexual orientation.

According to the ABI, insurance companies see no need and do not wish to differentiate for insurance purposes between customers in civil partnerships and married couples.

The proposal forms part of the ABI’s detailed response to the Government’s current consultation on its Discrimination Law Review.

Nick Starling, the ABI’s Director of General Insurance and Health, told PinkNews.co.uk:

“The insurance industry is united against discrimination and in support of treating people fairly.

“Insurers base their treatment of all customers on a fair and objective analysis of the risks they represent. It is sensible to differentiate, for instance, in the case of age or gender.

“But we do not seek exemptions where there is no case for one; there is no need for the law to provide for different treatment between civil partnerships and marriages.”

Alan Wardle, Stonewall’s Director of Public Affairs, told PinkNews.co.uk:

“Stonewall supports the ABI’s proposal to abolish this exception.

“We trust the Government will repeal it at the earliest opportunity.

“Insurance premiums should be based on someone’s behaviour rather than their sexual orientation.”

Chris Morgan, member of the ABI’s Expert Working Group on HIV and Insurance, and Managing Director of Compass, the gay financial advisers, added:

“It’s very important that the new sexual orientation regulations do not overshadow the positive changes that have already been made for gay men within the life insurance industry.

“The HIV and Insurance guidelines introduced by the ABI require insurance companies to treat gay men fairly when applying for life assurance products already.

“Therefore, the exemption contained within the new legislation should be removed.”

The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 contain an insurance provision which allows differential treatment of people on grounds of their sexual orientation.

The ABI is supporting the proposal that this exemption does not continue beyond the end of 2008. Many companies already treat civil partnerships in the same way as marriages.

The ABI is the trade association for Britain’s insurance industry. Its 400 member companies provide over 91% of the insurance business in the UK.

It represents insurance companies to the Government, and to the regulatory and other agencies, and is an influential voice on public policy and financial services issues.

ABI member companies hold up to a sixth of all investments traded on the London Stock Exchange, on behalf of millions of pensioners and savers.