Insurers cannot charge different premiums to men and women because of their gender, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled. The decision means that women can no longer be charged lower car insurance premiums than men, and the cost of buying a pensions annuity will change.
The change will come into effect in December 2012, although customers could see premiums alter in the interim.
The court was ruling on a challenge by a Belgian consumer group Test-Achats. It had argued that a current exemption for insurers contradicted the wider European principle of gender equality.
"Taking the gender of the insured individual into account as a risk factor in insurance contracts constitutes discrimination," the ECJ said.
The requirement for unisex insurance premiums and benefits will start on 21 December 2012, giving national governments and the European insurance industry time to adjust.