Insurance madness to hit women

Wednesday, 16 May 2012 3:53 PM

Citroen DS3

Pop popsicle Pixie Lott shouldn't look this happy? Perhaps someone else is paying her insurance bill!

Greece is on the verge of collapse, Spain, Italy and Portugal aren't faring much better and Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande are both trying to be the most important person in Europe - yes, indeed, there is plenty to get ranty about when it comes to the sorry state of the EU at the moment. But as a woman and a driver, I'm going to rant instead about insurance premiums going up for women and down for men because of the EU gender directive.

This flies in the face of how insurance premiums are calculated. Insurance companies offer cheaper policies to good risks and more expensive policies to bad risks. This makes premiums for women drivers cheaper. Every year, the stats don't really change all that much - male drivers have more accidents and generally more serious accidents. This is not to say that women drivers don't have accidents - and if the number of women I see texting and driving continues to rise, the number of awful crashes might too. But that is merely my observation, it's not a proven fact. And hard data is required to accurately calculate insurance premiums.

Women drivers do have accidents, this is true, but women tend to have less serious accidents, killing and injuring less people, and they tend to happen at lower speeds. The stereotype about women backing into bollards while parking might be a bit tired and tragic, but smashing a tail light is a minor inconvenience in comparison to the physical and financial carnage of a twisted metal wreck.

I'll put my hand up and admit, I have caused two car accidents in my time, both at low speed, the most notorious being writing off Dad's Volvo on my first driving lesson, aged 16 and travelling at about 5mph. But the other two accidents I have been involved in were not my fault - one was caused by a male truck driver who merged unsafely and another was caused by a male bus driver who hit my car when turning from the wrong lane at a set of lights and cutting across a junction.

I was last at fault in an accident when I was 19. I am now 36. In true lady driver fashion, I once hit a brick wall in front of my house when I sneezed while the car was in reverse, I have backed over a small barbecue that I didn't spot in my mirror and put the odd bump or scratch on cars I've owned over the years. I admit, they were silly things to do but not reckless actions that warrant an increase in my premiums.

I have been known to drive too fast - indeed, over the course of my driving career, I have accumulated way more speeding fines than my husband. And given that speed is a factor in many car accidents, I'd have to take it on the chin and pony up if that was being used as a means of calculating my insurance premiums. It's only fair.

But by having to follow this ridiculous EU gender equality directive, women are at a disadvantage. I can hear already hordes of smug men waving their pitchforks at me and saying: "Well, ladies, you wanted equality and now you've got it." Except we haven't. Women still earn less than men on average, still lose income when taking time out for having children and, despite a higher average life expectancy than men, these income shortfalls mean that women can't always put enough away for retirement. And now higher insurance premiums is just another financial burden that will hit women harder than men.

By Georgia Lewis

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