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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 September, 2004, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
Insurance: Should gender count?
Car accident
Women drivers may have to pay more for car insurance if Europe extends sex discrimination legislation, a House of Lords committee has warned.

If the EC proposal is extended firms will not be allowed to use gender to assess premiums for insurance, pensions and annuities.

This will mean women drivers may pay higher car insurance and men will lose out on annuities, a House of Lords committee has warned.

The Chairman of the committee said "the proposals will lead to anomalies and inconsistencies".

Should gender matter when assessing premiums for insurance, pensions and annuities?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

It's spreading the risk according to each driver's ability and record
Ken, Scotland
If gender influences driving behaviour, then yes, it should be taken into account along with other factors such as age, experience, model of car etc etc. These will provide a base for the premium which can then be adjusted for individuals on the basis of claims history. That's not discriminatory, but it's spreading the risk according to each driver's ability and record.
Ken, Scotland

As a female learner-driver I have seen nothing but appalling driving from other women, so I don't know where the concept of them being the better driver has come from. Car insurance definitely needs to fairer, and maybe the driving test harder to raise driving standards.
Amy, Berks

Of course both should be charged similar premiums. But, instead of making women's higher, how about bringing the cost of insurance down generally?
Grav, Coventry, UK

It should be based on real risk, not stereotypical drivers
Dave Pallett, Slough, UK
I am sick and tired of hearing how "women are better drivers". True, women are responsible for fewer motoring offences, yet they are guilty of an awful lot of very poor driving. I know a lot of women who seriously lack confidence especially when driving on motorways and parking. It should be based on real risk, not stereotypical drivers.
Dave Pallett, Slough, UK

The fact is men and women have the same number of accidents, but in general men make more claims because young people learning to drive, whatever their sex often get added as a named driver to their fathers insurance.
Michael, Wigan, Lancs, UK

How about if the insurance companies based their premiums on ethnic grouping and their associated risk? That would cause an enormous outcry, so why is this discrimination any different?
Phil, Worcester

I think men and women are equally responsible for bad driving. I have been driving for almost ten years and am now able to get a reasonable premium. I think that what really needs looking at is those with NO insurance at all. They are my biggest worry because if someone without insurance crashes into me, it's coming out of my pocket.
Emma, London, UK

Forget gender, just go back to the old system
Jenny, Tobermory, Isle of Mull

Forget gender, just go back to the old system where an individual could get insurance to meet his/her needs given the risks of their situation, not the "one size fits all" post code lottery that most companies offer now.
Jenny, Tobermory, Isle of Mull

So where do we draw the line on what can and cannot be taken into account? Why should the socially disadvantaged be penalised for not having a garage to store their car in or younger drivers pay more? It's time these idiots in Brussels found a real job.
Andrew, Edinburgh

Insurance premiums should be based on drivers' individual driving records, not on any racial, religious or gender group they happen to be part of. It is blatant discrimination that I should have to pay more insurance than a female who has exactly the same car and no claims bonus as I have.
Patrick Ferns, Glasgow, Scotland

FACT: Women have twice as many accidents per mile as men. The only reason they are "safer" is that they drive less. So yes, the discrimination against men should stop and premiums should be based on annual mileage - leaving everyone happy!?
Ray Gray, London, England

As usual with feminism, 'discrimination' works only one way
Stephen, London
It's mathematics and biology that says that women should pay more in pension funds yet that's 'discrimination'. Yet when the mathematics of risk says that women should pay less, then it's fair comment. As usual with feminism, 'discrimination' works only one way.
Stephen, London

The cost of car driver insurance should be based on risk. These inane fools in the EC offices should be fired for wasting public money.
Charles Smith, London UK

I can accept the generality that men have an overall higher accident rate than women, but I believe implicitly that this is an excuse to overcharge tens of thousands of men outrageously. A man with a good record should pay a low premium, a woman with a bad record a high one and vice versa. How many bad men or good women there are overall is irrelevant. Sex discrimination should have nothing to do with it, and men like Nikolai Levey are perfectly entitled to wonder who is actually being discriminated against.
Mark, UK

Why don't they just ban cars with an engine bigger than 673cc? No more problems with boy racers, no more speeding motorists, and insurance premiums can be the same for everybody regardless of whether they are a good or not. We can charge a huge tax on people who put go-faster stripes down the side of their box on wheels to make up the difference.
Nige, England

All new drivers should have equal premiums and future premiums decided on their individual records
Gary, Birmingham, UK
I'm a young male and I hate the "guilty until proven innocent" attitude of the insurance industry. I think that all new drivers should have equal premiums and future premiums decided on their individual records. It is completely wrong that this ageism and sexism is tolerated.
Gary, Birmingham, UK

It's certainly mad. Men cost insurance companies more in pay-outs, so they charge men more in premiums. Seems logical to me. If premiums have to be standardised, you can bet nobody's premium is going to come down!
Lucy, Northwich, Cheshire

Driving is not a right, it is a privilege.
D.S. Erickson, Corpus Christi, Texas

Its interesting how female contributors have reacted now that the shoe is on the other foot when it comes to sex discrimination.
Matthew, Enfield

All of the women seem, quite correctly, to be pointing out that since men cost insurance companies more they should have to pay more. I hope therefore women are willing to accept less pay than men since women cost their employers far more through maternity leave and other such benefits.
Andrew, London, UK

Deal with more important issues such as disparity of pay and discrimination in the workplace
Catherine O, Maidenhead, UK
It is a shame that the EC does not see fit to deal with more important issues such as disparity of pay and discrimination in the workplace before proceeding with a proposal that will benefit men further. I would hazard a guess that most women would not baulk at the idea of paying the same premiums as men if they were on a more equal footing financially.
Catherine O, Maidenhead, UK

Calculating insurance premiums should surely be done only on the information known about risk. If gender is a significant factor, why should it not be considered? Politics cannot overrule mathematics, and the attempt is ludicrous.
Euan Gray, Edinburgh, UK

I think it's outrageous that young men should be discriminated against. I've been driving for six years without and never been in an accident yet I'm punished for being a young male and have to pay extortionate insurance premiums. However I don't think these new proposals should result in women paying more but a decrease in the cost of insuring male drivers. To say male drivers are worse than female drivers is a gross injustice and I refuse to take the blame for a small number of boy racers!
Nikolai Levey, Stanmore

It's outrageously unfair that cold, hard statistics are potentially being thrown out of the window
Karen, Cambridge, UK
I am a young female driver and have not had an accident in the 5 years since I passed my test, but my brother had 3 all in his first year driving. It's outrageously unfair that cold, hard statistics are potentially being thrown out of the window in order to be "more PC". Mathematical logic dictates that all factors should be taken into account when calculating insurance premium, and gender is one of those factors. I have already paid out many thousands on insurance and do not want to have to pay more!
Karen, Cambridge, UK

Everyone should be judged individually on driving-related factors alone. Why do I have to pay higher insurance simply because other males have made insurance claims? I've been driving for 10 years with not so much as a scratch (touch wood!) so why should I pay more than a female with the same experience?
Rich, UK

Insurance is based on the assessment of risk. A house made of straw is more likely to burn down than a house made of brick and therefore any fire insurance should be costed accordingly. Life assurance costs more for men than for women, health insurance costs more for women than for men, pensions are more expensive for women than for men. It's all based on risk statistics - the fact is that these statistics happen to split on gender lines but assessment based on statistical fact can't be discriminatory. You might as well say that as life insurance costs increase as one gets older, this is ageism. Or that people with a medical condition shouldn't be charged more for health insurance because it's discrimination against the disabled.
Jenni, UK

If a motorist has a very reliable car, and a good driving record then they pay less insurance. It makes sense. Similarly, if a motorist is a particular gender and as a general rule that sex drives more safely then this should be reflected in their insurance. If people can pay lower or higher insurance depending on their age then it seems only natural that sex should be taken into consideration.
Anne, London, England

Of course if gender is relevant it should be taken into account. It's not sexist at all. The whole of the world is on the brink with terrorism etc and those in Brussels still fiddle about with size of fruit and other such nonsense as this. Let's get out now.
John Watson, Notts UK

It is illegal to charge people of different races different premiums so why should gender discrimination be permitted, even if statistics suggest that men and women have different levels of risk? Surely, it is against the principles of equality to discriminate on the grounds of factors beyond our control, like sex and race.
John, Southampton

Of course it should matter! There are some obvious differences between men and women in such matters. Men tend to have more serious accidents, and on average women live longer. If these facts can't be used in assessing premiums then what can? Where do we draw the line?
Carl J, Oxford

Should older drivers (who also, statistically, have fewer accidents) also pay the same as the young? If we're avoiding sexism, we need to avoid ageism too. Another example of EU lunacy.
Angela C, London, UK


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