'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.
Mark Dampier: 'We're on our own in retirement. They've pulled pensions to pieces'
Questions of Cash: I don't use Amazon Prime, but my credit card bill says I do
HSBC becomes first bank to offer five-year fixed rate mortgage with interest rate under 2%
Crippling PFI deals leave Britain £222bn in debt
Pension freedoms: How to deal with cold calls from scammers
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...
£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...
£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...
Day In a Page
With space for an equestrian business, a greenhouse for growing your own veg, a wine store and a gym; this five-bedroom home has all the ingredients for a country retreat.
This four-bedroom home has exposed brick chimneys and a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining - the doors open to the patio and garden.
The decked roof terrace of this two-bedroom flat is perfect for summer drinks while large windows and ample storage space make for a light and spacious interior.
Surrounded by approximately 15 acres of grounds, this six-bedroom grade II-listed home has been extensively refurbished yet retains many period features.
This four-bedroom home comes with a two-bedroom cottage and commercial office, with planning to extend, in a stunning courtyard setting.
In a pretty Norfolk village, this four-bedroom family home is surrounded by landscaped gardens, with even a self-contained annex for guests.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
This five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors of a converted Victorian hospital, offering spectacular views of the Pentland Hills - only three miles from the city centre.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
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
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
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
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