'Female-friendly' insurers catch the unwary
Specialist providers are more likely to charge over the odds for cover despite women's safety record
Sunday 12 September 2010
Specialist insurers that promise cheap deals for women often charge over the odds for cover. Exclusive research undertaken for The Independent on Sunday by Confused.com reveals that self-proclaimed female-friendly firms can charge hundreds of pounds more than mainstream insurers.
The comparison site looked at car insurance premiums for women of differing levels of age and experience. The results show that specialist providers seldom offer the best deals.
Confused's figures show that a 40-year-old woman in Cardiff, driving a Ford Fiesta Style, with five years' no claims bonus (NCB) and a £250 voluntary excess would pay £575.60 with Diamond – more than £300 higher than Esure's premium of £273.48. Other bespoke providers were even more expensive, with a policy from Diva costing £586.40, Women on Wheels costing £633.26 and Ladybird costing £682.05 – £400 more than the best deal.
"Statistically, women drivers are the safest on UK road, and it is no surprise that some providers have created specific brands and bespoke policy offerings with the intention of attracting this market," says Will Thomas, head of motor insurance at Confused.com.
Home Office figures show that over the past five years, male drivers in the UK have accounted for 94 per cent of all car accidents involving death or bodily harm, 97 per cent of all dangerous driving convictions and 83 per cent of all speeding convictions. This is despite the fact that the driving population is currently split 55 per cent men and 45 per cent women.
With this in mind, insurance dedicated to female drivers makes complete sense – they focus their attention on safer drivers and pledge to reward them with smaller premiums.
But our figures show that many of the specialists are ripping women off. A notable exception is Sheila's Wheels which offered a competitive quote in our example of only £259.98, beating the rate offered by its Esure owner. The firm also offer add-on benefits designed to appeal to women such as additional cover of up to £300 for your handbag if it's stolen or damaged while in your car, and "female-friendly" repairers. "Obviously no insurer can claim to offer the cheapest quote for every driver. However, by focusing solely on women, Sheila's Wheels reflects the relative safety of female drivers through attractive premiums," says Asia Yasir, spokeswoman for the insurer.
However, Sheila's Wheels declined to quote for a 20-year old woman, as did specialist rival Diva. In the example of a woman living in Cardiff, driving 10,000 miles a year in a Ford Fiesta Style, with £250 voluntary excess and one year's no claims bonus, the best premium available was £1,027.10 quoted by Admiral.
Women generally pay less on average for their car insurance, but the difference is shrinking. The average premium for men in June last year was £480 and rose to £627 this year, according to the Confused price index, while for women, premiums jumped from £429 to £564.
With this in mind, it's crucial to avoid being lured in by the hype. A specialist may well offer competitive premiums but unless you compare as many providers as possible, women may miss out on the best price and end up paying hundreds of pounds more than they need for cover.
"For a female looking for car insurance, there are insurance providers who do not specifically target female drivers that can also provide competitive premiums and match or be even better the cover that is given when compared to 'female friendly' providers," says Michael Powell, head of general insurance at analysts Defaqto.
It's also important to assess the level of cover and additional benefits. For example, £300 handbag cover may sound useful, but it covers theft only from the car.
Above all, it's vital to remember that there are many other factors affecting premiums beyond gender, including age, occupation, vehicle type, claims and convictions. This will vary considerably from one company to another.
"The main challenge for the customer is identifying which niche they fit into, especially given the degree of customer segmentation that occurs in motor insurance market. Gender isn't always the strongest price indicator when it comes to risk," warns Mr Thomas.
Switching credit card just got a whole lot cheaper as Nationwide slashes cost of transferring a balance to 0 per cent deal
Make money as a mystery shopper
Investment Insider: Poundland may not be cheap when it floats
How to start your own internet business
The whole truth about legal fees: Conveyancing can knock a big hole in home-buyers' finances. To get the best deal you must cross-examine solicitors about their charges, says Sue Fieldman
- 1 Three-quarters of Britons are saying it wrong - the top ten most common mispronunciations
- 2 Boy George: Bad karma
- 3 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 4 First Kiss video: Filmmaker gets 20 strangers to make out on YouTube with awkward results
- 5 Ian Wright breaks down in ITV documentary charting his rise to Arsenal and England striker
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
The quiet diplomat: Catherine Ashton - recognised and admired in all the world’s troubled countries, yet ridiculed at home
iJobs Money & Business
£57000 - £77000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Top 10 Specialist...
£350 - £450 per day: Harrington Starr: Harrington Starr are currently working ...
£40000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Application Support - FIX protoco...
£45000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Application Support - OMS/EMS, FI...
Day In a Page
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000
A 17th century four-bedroom house, with open fireplaces, cellar and pool, £600,000
A three-bedroom, coach house with luxury open-plan living space and contemporary breakfast bar
A newly refurbished one-bedroom flat in the heart of Mayfair, close to Grosvenor Square
A charming four-bedroom house overlooking Burleigh Square Park, close to Thorpe Bay
A three-bedroom farmhouse with a large inglenook fireplace and exposed beams
A boutique mews house, set around a central courtyard, with three bedrooms and a private roof terrace
A four-bedroom farm-conversion with three bathrooms and two reception rooms
A two-bedroom detached house with ensuite bathrooms and a sun-drenched decked terrace, £750,000
A modern and spacious two-bedroom, penthouse flat with two bathrooms in a prestigious development
A beautifully renovated five-bedroom terrace with three reception rooms and a courtyard garden, £700,000
A four-bedroom period house which has been extended to provide almost 2,500sq ft of living space, £675,000
A pretty three-bedroom Georgian home with a 22ft drawing room and a master suite with a balcony, £525,000
A substanstial family home with five bedrooms and landscaped gardens in the much sought-after Branksome Park area
A well-presented three-bedroom house with front and rear gardens, close to White City station, £475,000
A handsome five-bedroom house in a sought-after location close to the city centre
A five-bedroom country home with valley views, equestrian stables and 27 acres of land, £725,000
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A three-bedrrom flat with 2,733sq feet of living space, a beautiful private garden and 15 acres of communal grounds
A four-bedroom chalet bungalow with three bathrooms and a spacious garden, £525,000
A two-bedroom flat with an open plan kitchen and two balconies, close to Arsenal station
A Grade II-listed home with six bedrooms, secluded landscaped gardens and views across Hadley Green
A Grade II-listed mansion with two apartments and a cottage, near Gretna Green
A three-bedroom Grade II-listed mews house with vaulted ceilings and roof garden
A spacious Grade II-listed family home with annexe and equestrian facilities among four acres of land in Itchingfield