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Buying car insurance as an experienced female driver

Having been a driver for four years longer than my husband, the only driver for much of our early partnership, and the main driver in the household for some years afterwards, I have been buying or renewing my car insurance since 2002, and so have seen the ways several different companies cater for female car owners.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any insurance provider must be in want of customers; as such, my experiences over the past fifteen years have been broadly positive. Male or female, it's all about sales. However it has been instructive and, at times, frustrating to note the ways in which my husband and I have been treated differently. This piece relates to insurance purchased via a telephone consultation, rather than using an internet price comparison search.

Assumed knowledge

I have been a qualified driver since 2002, virtually all of my adult life. With this borne in mind, I continue to find it remarkable the surprise that insurance advisors react with when I ask the least technical question as part of my purchase, such as the different levels of coverage I am agreeing to. I don't know if this is playing to stereotypes of women as more nervous, worried about driving alone and less technically minded - which, like most stereotypes, have as much chance of being accurate as not. My husband is a teacher, a wonderful parent and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of indie music circa 1996; however he would be the first to admit that his knowledge of car specifications is limited to whether it's manual or automatic, and what colour it is.

I have often found that insurers will play on encouraging my 'peace of mind' to be secure when additions such as breakdown cover are added. This is not something my husband has experienced as part of any sales patter he has heard - even sometimes during the very same phone call. Yet it is often me who is treated as if I should be grateful for being protected by add-ons, which I am often covered for elsewhere. And if it were a straight choice between us two for who would benefit more from being covered for running out of fuel, it would be me rather than my husband who would politely decline.

Price

For me, and for most people, I would imagine, my first consideration is always to get the best possible price for the cover I want. I have been fortunate in that my premium has rarely been more than I expected. When my partner and I turned 25, the gap between our annual prices narrowed, as his presumed hot-headed, testosterone-driven impetuousness was imagined to have abated.

However the greatest single change took effect at the end of 2012. Now, my first degree is in law, but rather than show off what little Latin I remember, I'll stick to keeping it simple: the European Court of Justice equalised mens' and womens' insurance prices, so from December 2012 onwards, no company could offer different prices to two theoretical people whose only difference is in their sex.

What this meant in practice was that my husband's cover became significantly cheaper. What I expected, that womens' insurance would become more expensive to 'meet in the middle' with the traditionally higher rates paid by men, did not come to pass; much to my relief, mine stayed about the same. In any other year, my slight reduction would have gone unnoticed or thought to be a rather meagre no-claims bonus.

What insurers ask women

There are one or two scrapes on my insurance history - I've been 15 years on the road, remember. While I am happy to declare these and describe the circumstances, it seems that I'm asked for more detail than my husband. If he says, "This other car went into the back of me," that's the end of it. To explain a 50/50 collision out of a blind junction, I was asked follow-ups that meant the (male) advisor could have drawn an accurate sketch of the incident during our conversation.

Many of the frustrations of buying car insurance as a woman are the same as for men and, were it not for the direct comparison of a man in the house with similar - though shorter - driving experience, I wouldn't even be aware of them. Some of the old assumptions about gender role remain in play as an insurance customer, as they do in many facets of life, and I don't feel like car insurance leaves me hard done by as a woman. In the end, me being added to my husband's policy makes his cheaper, and adding my mum makes mine cheaper; what stronger compliment could any company offer than that?


Read about more personal experiences

No gender bias here!     Buying cheap car insurance for a busy woman



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