Israeli Insurance Company Sued for Giving Free Tire Changes - for Women Only

Court approves class action suit against a firm who justify their policy by citing the 'physical difficulty' a woman might experience in changing a car tire herself.

Robert Hernandez installs a new tire on a pick-up truck at Rockside Tire Sales & Services in Garner, North Carolina, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2009.
Jim R. Bounds, Bloomberg

A court approved a class-action suit on Sunday against IDI Insurance for offering a free tire-changing service to women only.

Lod District Court Judge Ofer Grosskopf accepted the plaintiff’s claim that this practice is discriminatory, since women receive the service free as part of their comprehensive car insurance policies, while men have to pay an extra 80 shekels ($21) for it. IDI runs two insurance programs: Direct Insurance and 9,000,000.

Customer Ronen Meirav decided to sue after contacting IDI about the tire-changing service and being told that he would have to pay for it, since he was a man. He sent the company a letter of complaint and received a response from IDI’s legal adviser.

“The rationale behind the difference is a relevant difference between the sexes that, in our view, justifies providing different service, since in most cases, for a woman, the tire-changing service is necessary due to physical difficulty in doing the change herself,” the response said.

In his decision to approve the suit as a class action, Grosskopf wrote, “A policy of discriminating between women and men on the basis of offensive stereotypes is not a matter that we, as a society, can dismiss as a trivial violation. The company might not have intended it, but the message that ‘women have trouble changing a tire by themselves and usually need a man’s help’ reflects a chauvinist view that is based on offensive stereotypes.

A patronizing, arrogant attitude toward women by those who sell products and provide services is an unacceptable way to run a business, which the legislator sought to combat.”

The class action approval means that anyone who sought to buy an IDI policy and suffered “the subjective emotional harm of humiliation and violated dignity” due to the company’s discriminatory approach, can now join the suit.

The court ordered IDI to pay the plaintiff 30,000 shekels in court costs.