There have been warnings of a sharp rise in uninsured drivers on the roads after a landmark ruling means insurance providers can no longer use gender to calculate risk.
The European Court of Justice yesterday ruled men and women can’t be given different insurance premiums because of their sex in a case brought by a Belgian consumer group fighting for gender equality.
The decision is likely to affect car insurance, where women currently benefit from lower premiums, and pension annuity, where men receive a larger annual pension.
The move was widely condemned yesterday with some commentators saying it was taking equality rights too far and would only serve to increase insurance premiums “across the board” when the ruling comes into force in December 2012.
Among the warnings were:
- An increase of uninsured drivers taking to the roads because they can’t afford the more expensive premiums.
- Low risk drivers subsidising their higher risk counterparts.
- A 25% increase on insurance premiums for young women drivers.
- A 5% drop in pension annuity rates for men.
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said an “unintended consequence” of the decision would be a likely increase in uninsured drivers.
“There is a growing problem of uninsured drivers out there in general — most of them men. If we start to get women being faced with huge premiums some of them will be tempted to drive without insurance too,” he said.
Malcolm Tarling, from the Association of British Insurers, said it was “disappointed” with the decision. “Across the board, it’s UK customers who are likely to lose out because of this,” he said.
Angela Marley (33), from Glenavy, Co Antrim
“This is totally unfair — women are more careful when on the roads than men, and women are not as hard on their motors as men. I believe women are safer drivers; you are less likely to find a female drink or drug driving. They do not deserve to have to pay the same premiums as men.”