Car insurance costs set to rise for young women

Conor Macauley looks at what changes are in store for young drivers' car insurance costs

Karen Pillow's daughters Sarah and Rebecca are both learning to drive. The twins are 17, which means a hefty insurance bill for the Coleraine woman.

But Dr Pillow has acted just in time to offset the impact of an EU ruling that will see big price rises for female drivers between the ages of 17 and 25.

The change will affect people renewing their cover after 21 December and follows a decision of the European Court of Justice in 2011 that insurance companies can no longer take an applicant's gender into account when deciding insurance premiums.

That's important because when it comes to car insurance, young male drivers have a much higher risk of causing fatal or serious injury accidents - the reason they're often quoted eye-watering prices.

The result of the EU gender ruling is that women's insurance prices will go up and men's will come down.

The younger the driver, the bigger the price swing they'll experience, but for young women the changes may come as a real sting.

According to a government estimate, prices for them could go up by as much as 24%.

For young men aged 17-25 the changes bring better news - an average decrease of 9% is on the cards.

'Black box monitoring'
Sarah and Rebecca Sarah and Rebecca are both learning to drive.

BBC Newsline got a sample quote for an 18-year-old driver before and after the 21 December deadline.

An 18-year-old woman driving a car in insurance group 4 on a third party fire and theft policy would see the annual premium go from £1,484 to £3,422.

Her male counterpart would see his policy price come down from £3,620 to £3,422.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) had resisted the gender ruling, but has now accepted that it will come into effect on 21 December.

"We lobbied against this ruling for nearly a decade," said ABI spokesperson Adeola Ajayi.

"Insurance is all about matching price to risk and we wanted to retain the right to offer customers fair premiums and benefits based on risks linked to different genders.

"Insurers are now busy working hard to adjust their systems and remain committed to offering premiums and benefits that reflect risk as accurately as possible, despite having to ignore decades worth of data.

"The UK insurance market is competitive, with customers able to shop around many insurers, and it will remain competitive, gender or no gender."

There are a range of products on the market that use technology to try to cut the cost of cover.

Dr Karen Pillow has gone for black box monitoring. Another family we've spoken to are using a new Android phone app.

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