Drive down the cost of your motor insurance

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The Independent Online

The age-old debate over whether men or women are more dangerous drivers has been contested for years. Let's face it, most men believe they are better drivers, but they would be hard-pressed to find proof of this.

In fact, statistics show otherwise. When it comes to driving, men are a much more risky bet, and insurance premiums reflect that. Despite official figures identifying male motorists as a greater threat on the roads, plenty of men still believe their female counterparts are worse behind the wheel. Sainsbury's Finance found that two-thirds of motorists admitted to engaging in some form of dangerous activity while driving in the past month – with an estimated 10.3 million male drivers, compared with 8.7 million females who did the same. But a good indication of who is a safer driver can be gleaned from looking at insurance premiums.

What will you pay?

According to the AA Premium Index, the average premium for a man aged 17 to 22 is £2,146 per year and only £1,209 for a woman. The premiums do level off over time, with the average premium for a man aged 30 to 39 standing at £578 and £461 for a woman, but the cheaper insurance remains weighted towards women. It is not only men who face higher costs. Car insurance premiums have been rising at record rates this year and young drivers, particularly males, are bearing the brunt of this.

How do insurers view gender?

Although young drivers are more likely to pay higher rates, driving habits do not always make the difference. Many other factors are taken into consideration when determining the cost of premiums. Insurers don't always evaluate risk in the same way so it's important for young drivers to compare rates before buying. Insurers see women as safer on the road because statistically they are less likely to be involved in accidents. The AA says it has little to do with the car and much more to do with the fact that young men are likely to injure their passengers or other people when they lose control.

Where are you most likely to crash?

Research from Diamond Insurance found that women drivers tend to be involved in collisions at roundabouts, traffic lights and car parks, whereas men are more likely to get into head-on collisions and crash at high speeds. But whether you're male or female, there are always ways to improve your safety on the roads.

Save on insurance

Ask your insurance provider how much you can save by raising the excess on your insurance. Raising it by even a couple of hundred pounds could end up saving you a significant sum. Agreeing to a mileage limit can also slash premiums and avoiding high-performance or expensive vehicles is one of the surest ways to keep costs down.

If you are happy with your insurance company you may want to stay with them, but if you have a good driving record, it is always worth shopping around to see how much you can save. Most insurers will provide a substantial discount for multiple policies so it may be a good idea to get your car and home cover from the same provider.

Avoid speeding. Some insurance companies give discounts up to 20 per cent if you have not had a ticket for a few years and don't forget that having a full no-claims bonus is crucial, sometimes knocking up to two-thirds off the cost of cover.

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