Do women still get cheaper insurance than men?
Traditionally, car insurers would offer women cheaper premiums on the basis of their gender, drawing on statistics that indicate women are less likely than men to speed and engage in other risky driving behaviour. But is this still the case?
A decade ago, the European Court of Justice ruled that taking gender into account when calculating car insurance premiums violated EU gender equality legislation. Regulations banning the practice came into effect in December 2012 and remain in force in the UK although we’ve since left the EU.
Under the law, insurers can’t automatically discount your premiums if you’re a woman or increase them if you’re a man. However, in practice, men continue to pay more for their car insurance than women because they’re more likely to have other factors that increase premiums, such as penalty points, driving convictions, high-powered cars, higher mileage, and occupations insurers judge as riskier.
Motoring offences can have the most detrimental impact on your insurance premiums and men are overwhelmingly more likely to commit them. 54% of all licence holders in the UK are men but they hold 72% of all penalty points, according to government data. Men are also guilty of 84% of drink driving offences and 69% of speeding offences in which points are given. Men also receive 82% of the points handed out for using a mobile phone behind the wheel.
You must disclose these offences to insurers while they remain on your record, even if they didn't directly lead to a car accident or claim. Penalty points and motoring convictions raise major red flags for insurers, suggesting that the motorist is more likely to be involved in a costly collision in the future.
Men are also more likely to be involved in car accidents. Car dealer Jennings Motor Group has found that 57% of male drivers have been in a crash, as opposed to 44% of female drivers. Most of these collisions result in car insurance claims, which you’ll have to disclose to insurers for around five years.
Additionally, a claim will wipe or lower the no claims bonus which can mean deep savings on your premiums. Women are less likely to make claims and therefore don't see their premiums inflated by previous claims and keep their no claims discounts.
Furthermore, men are more likely to drive the high-powered, expensive, flashy cars that attract the highest insurance costs. These vehicles are more expensive to insure because they're more likely to be involved in high-speed crashes or stolen and cost more to repair or replace.
Additionally, while they can’t factor your gender into your premiums, insurers can still ask your occupation, which is often a proxy for gender. Insurers base the risk profiles they associate with different occupations on their historic claims data and assumptions about how much people in these jobs drive and at which hours and how expensive their cars are.
They’ve judged builders, delivery drivers, professional football players, and hospitality workers the riskiest to insure, while secretaries and other office workers are seen as the least risky. In general, men are over-represented in risky occupations with higher insurance costs.
But not all men will pay higher insurance costs than women. A male driver with a clean driving record, a healthy no claims bonus, a sensible car, and a less risky occupation will earn cheap premiums, just as a woman with penalty points, a history of claims, a flashy car and a hazardous, high-mileage occupation will pay more. But on average, men are handing insurers more money in premiums.