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Europe knows best. Naturally.

On the 21st of December 2012 European Union legislation, called the Gender Directive, came into force. The European Court of Justice banned car insurance providers from using the sex of an applicant as a rating factor. This has had a very important influence on the rates drivers are now paying for their insurance premiums.

We all know that men think they are the best drivers, and we all know that women are the safest drivers! All the statistics show that male drivers take more risks, and that young male drivers are statistically the most likely to have an accident, and a costly one at that.

This is why, prior to the new legislation, women had lower premiums than men, as insurance companies thought them a lower risk. It would seem that young women drivers have come out far worse than their male counterparts as a result of the Gender Directive. Females aged between 17 and 18 have seen their premiums increase by as much as a whopping 50 percent, with males drivers rates having dropped by an average of 12 percent. The slightly older males, 25 year-olds, have fared better still, with premiums lower by 25 percent.

Whilst the days of the “boy” racer have been eroded by hefty insurance costs, around £4,000 now being the average cost, the cost of premiums has also influenced the type of cars that youngsters are driving. Buying a car at 17 years-old is not just a passing fancy, but is very often a necessity. Cheaper models and smaller engines have become more popular as they are perceived as lower risk, and therefore can earn significant reductions in the cost of insuring them, as much as 50 percent in some cases.

Recently there has been a move towards the new technology of the black box, this is fitted to cars to record the drivers motoring style. The black box system automatically analyses the drivers’ habits, scoring them on anticipation, speed and consistency. Consequently the information results in careful drivers being rewarded with lower premiums, and hopefully encouraging safer driving styles.

Overall men’s car insurance still costs more than women’s, but the difference has fallen from 14 percent to 2 percent. Older females, 36 to 40 year-olds, didn’t have anywhere near such a dramatic increase, an average increase of just 2 percent.

If is unfair to generalise and say all young male drivers are high risk, and that all young female drivers are the safer drivers. But on the whole, even with all the increases that women’s premiums have had imposed on them as a result of the Gender Directive, male teenagers in general are still deemed the highest risk, and subsequently pay the highest rates of all - not because, collectively, they happen to be male but because, individually, they have more, and more serious, accidents and (again, individually) they get more convictions, and more convictions for serious motoring offences. Nothing at all to do with the fact that these young males are, well, male, of course.

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