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Court rulings on gender-based insurance rates

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The courts have upheld the rights of insurers to charge on the basis of age and gender. In 1983, Michael Bates, an Ontario driver, won an Ontario Human Rights Board case where he argued that Zurich Insurance had discriminated against him by charging him more than a woman would pay. The ruling was later overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada, but the judges criticized the insurance company for its policies.

"The fact is, Zurich, as well as other Canadian insurance companies, have too long relied upon the tradition of discriminatory practices in their industry in order to justify their refusal to take the first step in implementing a less discriminatory system," they wrote.

"Simply asserting that a system has been in place for 50 years is an inadequate response to the argument that there are alternatives to the system. The insurance industry cannot rely on its inaction and tradition to support a discriminatory rate classification system."

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In 1993, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that gender-based rates were discriminatory, but ruled that there was no "reasonable alternative," and that if premiums were equalized, the higher rates would be unfair to young female drivers because of their superior safety record.

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