Insurance: What you need to know

The Alberta Human Rights Act protects members of the public against discrimination in insurance. The AHR Act does not protect against poor treatment or bad service, unless it flows from a protected ground of discrimination. The protected grounds are race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status or sexual orientation. You can read more about age as a protected ground and about all protected areas and grounds.

Examples of discrimination covered by the AHR Act:

  • denial of home insurance based on gender or family status
  • denial of spousal insurance coverage to same-sex couples

An example of an issue not covered by the AHR Act:

  • different premium rates based on risk assessment

Insurance providers are responsible for ensuring that their services do not discriminate against members of the public based on any of the protected grounds. It is recommended that insurance providers review their services regularly to identify and eliminate any potentially discriminatory aspects of their service. For example, an insurance provider might review its process for accepting new clients to identify any discriminatory policies based on a protected ground such race or family status.

If an insurance provider has a requirement that would discriminate against people based on a protected ground like sexual orientation or physical disability, it has a duty to accommodate affected individuals to the point of undue hardship. Accommodation means making changes to any rules, standards, policies or physical environments to ensure that they don't have a negative effect on anyone based on any protected ground. For example, an insurance provider that refuses to provide insurance to people with AIDS discriminates against those clients based on physical disability. The insurance provider could accommodate these clients by providing them with insurance at a higher rate to cover the additional risk posed by AIDS, or in the case of an insurance agent, finding alternative policies.

Individuals who require accommodation based on a protected ground have a responsibility to inform the insurance provider of their needs. Doing so gives the insurance provider the opportunity to make any changes necessary to accommodate the individual making the request, as well as anyone else with the same or similar needs. For more information about the duty to accommodate, see the Commission human rights guide Duty to accommodate.

In some circumstances, discrimination may be reasonable and justifiable. A service provider may refuse to offer services to some people based on one or more protected characteristics if providing the service would be an undue hardship. For example, an insurance provider may charge higher premiums for life insurance to clients where statistically it has been shown that their health will affect their life expectancy.

Revised: September 12, 2018



Our vision is a vibrant and inclusive Alberta where the rich diversity of people is celebrated and respected, and where everyone has the opportunity to fully participate in society, free from discrimination.