The New Zealand Human Rights Commission; Insurance and
The New Zealand Human Rights Commission; Insurance and human rights Michael J V White [email protected] Overview Human Rights in New Zealand The New Zealand Human Rights Commission Complaints received Insurance and discrimination Broader responsibilities business and human rights International Human Rights Context Universal Declaration of Human Rights Signed on December 10 1948
150 countries An historic document that sets out a common definition of human dignity and values 9 core human rights treaties New Zealand context Core human rights legislation Treaty of Waitangi New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 Human rights Act 1993 Privacy Act 1993 Economic, Social and Cultural rights in a variety of legislation NZ Human Rights Commission Is an Independent Crown Entity, funded by Government but operating autonomously
A status accreditation Commissions functions Main functions to advocate and promote respect for, and an understanding and appreciation of, human rights in New Zealand society to encourage the maintenance and development of harmonious relations between individuals and among the diverse groups in New Zealand society to promote racial equality and cultural diversity to promote equal employment opportunities (including pay equity) to promote and protect the full and equal enjoyment of human rights by persons with disabilities. Individual complaints Provides a process for resolving disputes about unlawful discrimination
May offer mediation The Commission cannot investigate or make a decision/finding on the merits of an individual complaint. If a complaint is not resolved at mediation a complainant can file a claim with the Human Rights Review Tribunal. Independent judicial body OHRP Ground of Discrimination
Age Colour Disability Employment status Ethical belief Ethnic or National Origins Family Status Marital status Political opinion Race Religious Belief Sex
Sexual Orientation Discrimination must occur in an area of public life Includes: Employment Education Goods and services Public places Vehicles and facilities Land, housing and other accommodation Public sector activity Complaints 2015-2016 100% 90% 80% 70% 60%
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n The Human Rights Act and insurance? Insurers cannot refuse to provide insurance to people, or treat them less favourably, by reason of any of the prohibited grounds of discrimination But Human rights Act acknowledges that insurance is about the classification of risk Some of the grounds are particularly relevant to how risk is classified Exception Distinction on grounds of sex, disability and age allowed, if: based on actuarial or statistical data on which it is reasonable to rely
In relation to disability, if no data is available it must be based on reputable actuarial or medical advice or opinion (Section 48 of the HRA) Cannot refuse to insure people because of any of the grounds in the act can offer policies on different terms and conditions in relation to sex, disability and age often by difference in premiums, relying on exclusion clauses or restricting coverage of pre-existing conditions Defining cover Exclusion clauses that apply to all policy holders are generally not unlawful define cover everyone runs the risk of developing an excluded condition in the future
Pre-existing conditions may be justified as no refusal to insure assessment should take into account an individuals circumstances Justifying different treatment Should comprise both quantitative and qualitative aspects Relevant local experience must be taken into account Credibility of data Where no data satisfied no data available satisfied it is reasonable to rely on advice or opinion Underwriting manuals; must ensure up to date and reasonable, consider local conditions
Medical advice or opinion Must be relevant to applicants disability Include information from persons medical practitioner with consent May be appropriate to seek advice of a specialist in some cases mental illness for example Any justification must be documented Mental Disability Cover should be available for mental disability on the same terms and conditions as other forms of disability Underwriters should assess in same way Reputable medical, psychiatric and actuarial advice Assessed on individual basis taking into account treatment and who treated the applicant
Any increased premium or imposition of an exclusion clause must be justified in same way and to same standard as for physical disability Reinsurance Exempt from the Human Rights Act Dealing with companies not individuals The requirement to always offer cover does not apply in international markets Reinsurers based offshore Insurance complaints Particularly on grounds of age and disability (mental health) Age complaints generally about higher premiums for travel or income protection Disability (mental health complaints) generally relate to situations where insurance is declined outright
Legality of exclusion clauses Grounds of complaints relating to insurance 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Ag e Se
x S ua ex rie lO io at t n n D
bi a is y lit (P l ca i s hy ) D
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us at t S er th O Some examples A complains that his travel insurance cost more because of his age (over 65), as the online application process won't recognise applications by people aged more than 65yrs, forcing them to apply by phone, and so losing the significant online booking discount. B has multiple sclerosis. He is having difficulties in negotiating life insurance with his insurance company.
Feels he is being discriminated against because MS does not shorten a sufferer's expected life-span. X complains about the companys Income Protection Insurance group scheme not being available when people turn 65 and keep working Y complains his health and life cover insurance policy does not cover intersex people (Klinefelter's syndrome) and genetic discrimination. Broader Human Rights considerations United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights 3 pillars: Protect, Respect and Remedy OECD Guidelines Complaints to National Contact Point regarding insurance companies
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