Battle of the sexes: Men v Women drivers

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It’s getting on for two years since the European Court of Justice's (ECJ) gender directive banned insurers from using a driver’s sex as a factor when calculating car insurance costs – meaning that, in the eyes of insurers at least, all men and women motorists are created equal. Public opinion of course, is not that here at MoneySuperMarket, we did our own research. 

What’s in a claim?

To find out whether it was men or women that made the more careful drivers, the MoneySuperMarket number-crunchers analysed over 11million car insurance quotes and found that it is, in fact, women who are more likely to make a claim on their car insurance for an accident they were deemed to be at fault for. So, that settles it then, men must be the more careful drivers, right?

Not necessarily. Our data also shows that although women make more claims, the average cost of a claim is £2,771, whereas the average cost of a claim made by a male driver is £3,187. This 15% increase suggests that although men make fewer claims, they are involved in more serious accidents.

This is backed up by the fact that the highest proportion of claims made by women (37%) are under £1,000 and the highest proportion of claims carried out by men (34%) are greater than £2,000. Not only that but 5% of claims made by male drivers cost over £10,000, compared to just 3% made by women. The figures also showed that new drivers pose a higher risk than experienced motorists with almost a quarter (24%) of ‘at fault’ claims made by those with less than five years’ experience at the wheel. Overall, road accidents account for the vast majority (87%) of all car insurance claims with the average ‘at-fault’ claim costing £2,979 and precipitating an increase in premium price of as much as 8%.

Battle of the sexes

So, does this mean that although women make more claims, they’re actually the safer drivers as any accidents they do have are more likely to be minor ones?

Kevin Pratt, car insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket, said:


“Speculating about the relative driving performance of men and women can be a minefield, but the traditional explanation for the discrepancy in the size of claims on gender lines is that men drive more often on motorways and fast trunk roads for work purposes, so if they have a crash it will be in busy traffic, at high speed, and will result in greater damage and injury. The corollary is that more women than men have low impact bumps and scrapes in car-parks. Additionally, it could be the case that men drive more expensive cars.”

"drivers will be rated according to their own characteristics, not whether they are male or female."

He added: “The world is changing, however, and a woman is just as likely to be driving to a work appointment up the M1 as a man, and a man is just as likely to be doing the weekly shop at the supermarket. So maybe we’ll see the cost-per-claim figures grow closer together. Or maybe women are actually better drivers and the gap will remain. All we know for certain is that, thanks to the ban on taking gender into account when calculating insurance premiums, drivers will be rated according to their own characteristics, not whether they are male or female.”

So, still no clear answer to the age-old question of whether it’s men or women who make for better drivers, meaning the ECJ's decision to stop insurers using gender as when calculating quotes could well have been a wise decision. What is clear though is any claim you make will bump up your premium price, regardless of your sex - so if you have suffered a prang it’s even more vital to shop around at renewal to get the best deal on cover.

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