Car insurance: is it fair men and women pay the same?

Back in 2012, the European Court of Justice outlawed discrimination in insurance on the basis of the policyholder’s gender.

In a nutshell, the ECJ said that, all other things being equal, men and women should pay the same for their car, house and life insurance. The ruling stretched to annuities too – these products pay a guaranteed income for life in return for a lump sum deposit.

Liberal thinking?

On the face of it, it seems like a fair-minded approach. But it actually flies in the face of the statistics insurers have always relied on when making their calculations. Take car insurance. Statistically, men are much more prone to having accidents. And the accidents they have tend to be more expensive. That’s why, in the past, they paid more for their cover. And young men, statistically the most accident prone of the lot, paid the most of all.

Gender on the agenda

Which sounds fair-minded to me. But insurers can no longer take gender into account, so all that historic evidence is no longer used. Same goes for life insurance. On average, women live longer than men. That’s a fact. And it means they should pay less for life insurance. But insurers now have to underwrite applications without taking this fact into account, so women are paying more.

Personal experience

I’m a long way from being a young male driver, and I’m even further from being a woman seeking life insurance, so I feel at a bit of a distance from these issues. But I talked these matters through with someone in our office for work experience – a young woman called Laura Gridley. She was astonished to learn about the gender ruling, so I asked her to jot down her reactions. Here’s what she said: “As a young woman driver, aged 19, I find the equality across insurance pricing unreasonable. “The ECJ ruling in December 2012 implemented new rules that banned insurers from factoring in gender when calculating insurance premiums. And as a consequence women have not benefited from prices that reflect the fact that women have fewer accidents. “I don’t mind young drivers paying more. We lack the necessary experience to be quoted the lower prices, enjoyed by older, more experienced drivers with proven track records. But male drivers are generally more reckless. They’re competitive and imbued with machismo, which leads to them unnecessarily overtaking and cutting people up. “If you’re disagreeing with my statement, remember the term ‘boy racer’? It came from somewhere!”

Statistical evidence

“Recent stats agree with my assumptions. These figures collected from the DVLA state that:

  • 20-30 year old male drivers were the most common group to be disqualified from driving (where they committed driving offences that led to a ban)
  • 92,136 people were disqualified from driving between July 2013 and June 2014
  • Over one-third of these were males within this age bracket (20-30 years) – 31,668 o Only 15% of the overall total were females, and only 4,333 were females within that same age group (20-30), which is a tiny number compared to the male drivers at that same age.

“Getting disqualified from driving isn’t concerned with accidents. Anyone can get into an accident and it not be their fault. It is due to reckless driving such as high excess speeding, drink driving and offences resulting in injuries and casualties). And reaching 12 penalty points within three years results in a six month disqualification.”

Deep concerns

“For a third of all the disqualifications in the last 12-months to be within my age bracket concerns me deeply. I’ll face high insurance prices when women only contribute to 15% of all disqualifications, and women within this age bracket contributing to just 4.7% of total disqualifications. “Gender should be considered when it is known that young males are the most dangerous drivers on the road, but I doubt this will be re-introduced any time soon. Can you see politicians favouring a move that actually introduced discrimination? “So I propose campaigns need to be introduced targeting males within this age bracket, increasing the awareness of the consequences of their actions. Such campaigns will bring about confidence in young drivers when safety on the roads improves, lowering the price for both men and women within this age group. “That’s the theory, anyway!”

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