Men are still routinely being charged more than women for car insurance, five years after the introduction of an EU rule intended to end price discrimination by gender.
The EU’s gender directive moved to eliminate the practice of insurers automatically favouring women and as a result discounting their premiums by hundreds of pounds. This had been commonplace in the industry, and gave rise to companies like Sheila’s Wheels aimed solely at women drivers.
But new data shows that even when automatic gender-specific pricing is removed, men are still paying more – because insurers’ data continues to rate the majority of male drivers as a riskier proposition.
Car insurance premiums analysed by website comparethemarket.com show the 2012 gender discrimination ban has had little effect. In fact, it suggests the gap between what men and women pay has on average widened in the past five years.
Between June and August 2017 the average policy for men was £821, while the average cost for women was £649 – around 27pc higher.
“This data shows how little difference the EU gender directive has had on insurance premiums,” said John Miles, of comparethemarket.com. “Providers are still giving big discounts to women.
“This is likely due to a number of factors, such as statistically higher accident rates for men and more men than women driving business and commercial vehicles – which are higher risk.
“The directive removed the ability of providers to give default discounts to women; however, the statistics and risk models used by insurers mean that the result is largely the same.”
The research, which takes into account an average of the five cheapest premiums presented to a customer, also found that the gulf between the highest and lowest price was around £50 higher for men, suggesting they can gain more by shopping around.
Malcolm Tarling, of the Association of British Insurers, said this was not a case of insurers failing to follow the directive and added that other factors were at play.
“For motor insurance, factors such as the type of car, number of miles driven, driving record and claims experience will all impact on the cost of cover,” he explained. “Men and women are likely to drive different types of vehicle, do different mileage, and these variations, not gender pricing, will reflect in premiums.
“Also, across the board, average motor insurance premiums continue to rise – up 11pc over last year – due to increasing costs, including higher Insurance Premium Tax and rising vehicle repair bills.”
Despite the disparity, average car insurance premiums are currently around the highest they have ever been at £740 this quarter, a £42 increase on the same period last year. The cheapest premiums have also risen to £612, a £33 increase on last year.