Myth or fact: Women pay lower premiums than men
For as long as cars have existed, jokes have been made about women drivers. But like many maxims, they’re not backed up by facts.
In fact, the research shows something vastly different; over and over, women outperform men in many areas of driving. That’s one of the reasons why at 1st for Women we offer car insurance specifically designed for women because they are simply better risks. This means women generally pay lower premiums than men do.
Let’s take a look at this in more detail – because who doesn’t love facts and research to back up something we all already know.
Why women are safer drivers
It’s not just in South Africa that women enjoy lower car insurance premiums. Research from all over the world backs up the notion that women drive better.
It shows us it’s about more than technical skills. Rather, the behavioural and neurological reasons behind the discrepancies in women’s and men’s driving styles is what matters.
Studies have shown that men drive more aggressively and recklessly than women, which makes them a greater insurance risk. They are more likely to get behind the wheel after having a few drinks and they tend to drive more, which automatically makes them riskier to insure.
If you want to get technical, you can look at the hormonal and neurochemical reasons why women are safer drivers. It’s well-established that men tend to show higher levels of risk-taking behaviour, which often carries over into their driving habits. In Africa, the US, Europe, and Asia, men are at a much higher risk of being involved in accidents than women are. This has been the case for years – a study published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2002 revealed that globally, 2.7 times more men die from road injuries than women.
It’s simply wired into men’s brains to take more risks than women. From an evolutionary point of view, it makes sense – men were the hunters, a dangerous job that required action. Women, on the other hand, were the gatherers, which required more thought and far less risk. Men’s higher levels of testosterone also drive them to take more risks in many activities, including driving.
Women are, therefore, more cautious on the road and tend to obey traffic laws more – they speed less and don’t skip stop signs as often.
A report published by the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) showed that the most aggressive drivers are men aged between 17 and 35 years old. They are three times quicker to hoot if the driver in front of them is slow to move at a green robot, and they are more likely to have an accident because of reckless driving. Compare this to women, who are more likely to have an accident because of a lapse in concentration.
Having said that, even a fun survey conducted by Australian insurance company, Allianz, a few years back shows that men can be more easily distracted. The company polled men and women to find out how distracted they think they’d be if they saw an attractive person walking on the street while driving. 51% of the men said they’d be distracted while only 15% of the women said they would.
Women also simply make fewer claims than men do, and the less you claim, the better it is for your purse.
Is it fair?
You might be wondering if, despite all this evidence that women are safer drivers, it’s fair to base insurance premiums on a person’s gender. This depends on who you ask. It is seen as discriminatory by some. Indeed, in the European Union, the practice of basing insurance rates on gender was outlawed in 2012.
The reality, though, is that it can be argued many factors used to determine a person’s insurance premium would be ‘unfair’. In addition to your gender, insurance companies also look at your age, where you live, where you work, whether you’re married, and even your credit history. Perhaps some of these factors are unfair, but no more so than a person’s gender.
There is also the infamous pink tax that women have to face every day. We’re not saying two wrongs make a right, but if you want to argue that gender-based insurance premiums aren’t fair, then we should look at all the items where the women’s products are priced higher than the men’s, usually for much more arbitrary reasons. Home, beauty, kids and adults clothing, and children’s toys are just some of the products women are frequently charged more for with no or little apparent difference between the men’s and the women’s product.
What else do insurers look at when quoting?
While it’s an important one, your gender is just one factor we use to calculate a car insurance quote. Here are some of the other factors that we look at:
Age. Drivers under 25 years old are considered a higher risk for some of the same reasons men are – younger people are more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviour.
Home address. If you stay in a high-crime rate area, your car is more likely to be stolen or damaged. Conversely, if your area is relatively crime-free, your insurance premium will be lower.
Work address. You spend most of your waking life at your job and so does your car. It makes sense that we’d need to know where your work is located.
Where you park. Whether at home or the office, where you park makes a difference. Leaving your car on the street in town puts it at a higher risk for theft and damage than in an access-controlled, underground garage.
The type of vehicle you drive has a major effect on your premiums. While we know you’re less likely to get into an accident than your male counterparts, we understand that it does happen. That’s why we look at how much it might cost on average to repair your car if it’s damaged. We also take its safety features into account and any after-factory add-ons you might have added, like a sound system.
It’s not just where you park your car during the day. The work you do also matters to us. Estate agents, reps, and vets who make house calls could pay more for cover. These might seem like a strange mix of professions, but each of these is on the road as part of their jobs. This makes them a higher risk to insure.
Your driving history
We know you’re a responsible driver, but accidents happen. Unfortunately, when they do, it can affect your premium for a while afterwards. We need to know what accidents you’ve had in recent years so we can assess how likely you are to have another one while you’re insured with us. But luckily, because you’re a woman and are a cautious driver, your driving history is more likely to be clear.
If you need any additional cover not included in a standard car insurance quote. This will drive your premium up. At 1st for Women, you can include the following add-ons with your policy:
Sound system cover
Cash Back Plus
Tyre & Rim Guard
Scratch & Dent
Why we insure women
1st for Women has proudly been insuring the women of South Africa for over 15 years. We started out because we wanted to provide insurance that was specifically designed for women for the first time. Something that met them on their own terms and helped them navigate the numerous roles they fulfill.
Even now, with other insurance products for women available, we feel it’s still as important as ever for us to create cover specifically designed for women. Unfair biases, like the pink tax, only encourage us to continue to help the women of South Africa in whatever way we can. It’s also why a portion of all our customers’ premiums goes to the 1st for Women Foundation, for the fight against women abuse.
Our Car Insurance policies all come standard with a range of benefits created to help you navigate your world. This includes our Guardian Angels Lifestyle Assistance, which is there for you at home, on the road, when you have a medical emergency, gives advice on your tax and financial matters, and provides your very own virtual personal concierge service.
Comprehensive Car Insurance policies also come with Guardian Angel on Call 24/7 Accident, Roadside, and Panic Button Assistance, available through the 1st for Women App. Click here to view the Guardian Angel on Call benefits per cover type.
To benefit from insurance specifically designed for women, give us a call on 0861 11 16 67 for a car insurance quote. If you’re too busy for a phone call (because we know you have a lot going on), you can get a quote online in minutes.
Sources: W24; Psych Central; SIRC; WHO; Mail & Guardian
Prices quoted are correct at the time of publishing this article. The information in this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal, or medical advice.