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The EU Gender Directive doesn't sound very exciting, but if you insure your car or need life or health insurance, this new legislation will affect how much you pay for it as of 21 December 2012.

That's very soon. People who would be affected by a rise are advised to review their policy before the December deadline. Both men and women could see rises or falls in prices, depending on the kind of insurance they pay for.

The Price of Equality - What is the Gender Directive?

This is a change in law brought about by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which bans insurers from charging more - or less - for various forms of insurance, based on gender. Basically, charging men or women different amounts for insurance will be considered gender discrimination.

HM Treasury announced the change in legislation in 2011, but the ECJ judgement only applies to new contracts entered into after 21 December 2012.

Car insurance price changes

Car insurance has traditionally been cheaper for women than men (because men are statistically more likely to make a claim than women) but that won't be the case anymore. The price car insurers charge women will be brought in line with what men pay (so prices will go up for women) and men may see a small reduction in their insurance premiums.

This year, The Guardian reported that women's car insurance premiums would rise on average by £300 per year, but younger female drivers could see larger rises, because premiums tend to even out between men and women at around the age of 40.

The Telegraph predicted an average rise of £360 per annum for women, with much higher rises for women between the ages of 17 and 22. predicted that female drivers under 26 could face 25% increases and men could see their premiums fall by 10%.

Bear in mind that men and women could still pay different amounts for car insurance because of other factors, such as which insurer they choose, their claims history and their level of driving experience.

Life insurance

Life insurance has been generally less expensive for women because they tend to live longer, meaning they're less likely to claim on a life insurance policy.

From December onwards, women are likely to see their life insurance premiums rise and men may see a decrease. It's difficult to say by how much prices will change because other factors play a part too - such as existing health conditions, age, and whether or not you smoke.

Critical illness

Consumer group Which? estimated in October 2012 that life insurance and critical illness premiums would rise by as much as 30% for some people by the end of 2012.

Income protection premiums

Some good news for women, but bad news for men: the changes in income protection premiums will be in the opposite direction. Traditionally, women paid more for income protection (IP) than men, because they were more likely to claim on this kind of insurance.

By the end of the year, men could see their premiums rise and women could see a reduction, according to consumer group Which? However, it's unknown how much more or less people will pay, because your occupation is the most significant factor in how much you pay for IP.

Insurance expert at Think Insure, Rob White, has the following advice for consumers:

"It may be prudent for women looking for life insurance, or car insurance, to purchase them before the changes happen. Men who would like to buy Income Protection or critical illness cover could also see price rises after 21 December, and again it might be wise to purchase or review their policy before that date. It is always a good idea to regularly review any form of long term insurance to make sure you're getting the best value."

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