Gender-Based Classification from Life Lines of Insurance

In American Council of Life Ins. v. Foster, 134 Pa. Commw. 634, 580 A.2d 448 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1990), the petitioners challenged an insurance commissioner order denying a petition for investigation and declaratory order related to the commissioner's elimination of a gender-based classification from life and health lines of insurance. They also filed a declaratory judgment complaint requesting that this Court issue a ruling that the commissioner had no authority to prohibit the insurance industry's use of gender in underwriting and pricing life and health insurance. The commissioner filed a preliminary objection in the nature of a demurrer to the complaint in American Council of Life Ins., contending that this Court lacked jurisdiction because no present case or controversy existed inasmuch as proposed regulations had not been promulgated and the petitioners had to present their concerns through the rulemaking process and then administrative review through the insurance department. the Court sustained the demurrer because the proposed unisex regulations had not been formally promulgated, and therefore an actual controversy did not exist. In short, judicial intervention was premature where the issues involved were to be resolved in the rulemaking process, which would allow the petitioners an opportunity to provide input through written comment and to appear at hearings during the rulemaking process. The Court noted that the petitioners were not prejudiced because they did not have to rewrite policies or adjust rates until regulations had been formally adopted.