The Association of British Insurers has updated its consumer guide for gay men covering HIV and life insurance.

The ABI has also brought out a new guide about insurance and countries with high HIV rates.

The updated gay men’s guide to reflects “changes being made across the industry to ensure that people in civil partnerships are treated the same as married couples.”

Nick Kirwan, the ABI’s Assistant Director, Health and Protection Insurance, said:

“This builds on the good work done by the insurance industry to ensure lesbian and gay people are treated fairly, and have access to practical information about insurance.”

The Sexual Orientation Regulations, which became law last year, contain an opt-out for insurance companies that allows them to continue to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The SORs protect gay, lesbian and bisexual people from discrimination when accessing goods and services.

Regulation 27 provides an exception where a person is treated less favourably on grounds of his sexual orientation in relation to an annuity, or life insurance policy, or similar matter.

The small print of the regulations, published in March 2007, make clear that insurance companies will have to argue to retain this exemption after 2008.

There is a similar provision in gender and disability equality legislation that allows insurers to use actuarial data to decide on which premiums to charge.

More than 95% of the insurance industry abide by the ABI code.

Research published in April found that many leading insurance providers in the UK are still sending gay men for unnecessary HIV tests.

In a survey insurance company staff were all asked to provide their company’s limit at which an applicant would be sent for an HIV test.

Two companies, Royal Liver and Bright Grey, were praised for their industry-beating limit of £1,000,000 of cover without HIV testing for gay men within a civil partnership.

However, 80% of frontline customer service staff of insurance companies covered in the study by gay financial advisers Compass gave incorrect information around gay men and insurance.

Chris Morgan, managing director of Compass and member of the ABI’s HIV Expert Working Group, which drafted and updated the Consumer Guide, said:

“I am very proud to be associated with the new Consumer Guide.

“It is extremely important that information is available to the gay community on life and protection insurance issues.

“The amendment to the Guide clarifies the industry’s position on civil partnerships, and I am extremely proud to have played my part in achieving what I believe to be full equality in life insurance products.”

ABI Consumer Guide for gay men on life insurance
ABI Consumer Guide on countries with high HIV prevalence