October 30, 2010

Women really do pay less than men

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A while back, we chewed over the question of why women might pay less to put wheels on the road ( Now we're back again. This time with the results of one of these surveys we all love to hate. It's one of those, "We told you so!" stories. There's this corporation based over in Sacramento. It runs a big network of insurance agencies and related education services, collecting data from its more than 10 million clients. The good thing about computers is they let you crunch numbers. In this case, the corporation has published a report showing the median rates for men and women over multiple states. The bad news for men is this confirmation they pay an average 9% more than women on comparable vehicles. In actual numbers across all states, men pay about $765 for a six-month policy whereas women pay about $698 to insure the same makes and models. So what might explain this difference (remembering it's a median number so there will be many instances where the difference is a lot more than 9%)? Well we start off with some fairly routine facts. When it comes to picking up tickets, men are clear winners. They are significantly more likely to collect a moving violation and, hardly a surprise here, up to 50% more likely to have a DUI/DWI conviction. When that favorite pub is just too far to walk, men take the risk. Then we get to the details of the policies women prefer. More opt for the discounts for lower mileages and are prepared to restrict their driving to the less dangerous times of the day and night, i.e. avoiding the time when all the men are driving back from their favourite pubs. Then we come to what might seem at first sight to be a slightly strange fact. Women who are the registered owners are less likely to own more than one vehicle and are more likely to be the sole driver. This is a survivor from the days when the man was the key player. He would have all the vehicles in his name with the wife or partner as the named driver. Now with more independent women around, they buy the one car they need and drive it themselves. No expensive men likely to mess up their claims records. Ah, yes, those claims records. Statistically, women are involved in less accidents than men and, because they drive more slowly, there is less damage to the vehicles. "What vehicles?" you ask. Well, on average, women buy less expensive and safer vehicles than men. Put all these factors together and this explains why women can expect to pay so much less than men on their car insurance rates. This does not mean, of course, that women will find their insurance "cheap". Because of gender discrimination in the job market, women earn less than men so paying lower premiums takes a bigger percentage of their earnings. Sadly, our society remains less fair than women would like but, at least in this one area of insurance, the balance has swung to favor the women. Everyone should get multiple auto insurance quotes to find the best deal. But putting a woman's name on the application gets a benefit.


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