'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.
- 1 Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Bill Cosby: Isn’t it obvious why his accusers have stayed silent up until now?
- 4 Halle Berry takes ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry to court for allegedly trying to make daughter look less African-American
- 5 Isis propaganda image showing 'abuse of Muslim woman by soldiers' is actually taken from Hungarian porn film
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict
iJobs Money & Business
£Attractive: Citifocus Ltd: High calibre individual with significant product d...
£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: Leading global bank seeks experienced credit analy...
£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: High calibre individual with a high degree...
£Attractive: Citifocus Ltd: High calibre individual with superior academics an...
Day In a Page
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
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