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Six years ago an interesting thing happened on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. In December 2012 the European Court of Justice issued a ruling that eliminated the use of gender in pricing formulas.
The Justices declared “that different premiums for men and women purely on the grounds of sex were incompatible with the principle of unisex pricing included in the EU (European Union) gender equality legislation.”
The European auto insurance ruling was a bit controversial at the time since it increased the possibility that women would end up paying more for their coverage.
On January 1, 2019 all California passenger car insurance pricing officially became gender neutral as well, according to a new state rule.
California is the first U.S. state to make this type of change in nearly 30 years. A handful of others such as Hawaii, Massachusetts, Montana, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania also passed similar gender neutral insurance regulations dating as far back as the 1970s.
After several years in action, the European ruling may be a good indicator of what Californians could experience.
What Happened After the EU Insurance Ruling?
So did the EU insurance ruling prove to be beneficial? Did it close the gender gap in car insurance premiums? Did women end up paying more premium?
Well, not exactly. An analysis published by Confused.com, a website used by British drivers to shop auto coverage, shows the discrepancy between gender pricing has actually widened.
Rather than the cost of premiums narrowing between the sexes, men actually began paying even more than women. In fact, since the 2012 ruling, in one survey men ended up paying roughly four times the amount of car insurance premium than they previously did.
Insurance companies are complying with the gender neutral pricing policy. However, they are relying more heavily on other elements in the factoring model which seem to inadvertently reveal gender anyway.
For example, insurers do take into consideration the consumer’s profession. Male-dominated occupations often are higher-risk and, therefore, bump up the auto premium as a result.
Confused.com advised: “Also, on average, men may tend to drive larger and more costly vehicles. The more expensive/high-spec the vehicle, the more likely it is that the cost of the repairs will be higher, and therefore this is reflected in the premium charged.”
Risky Driving Habits More Likely for Male Dominated Jobs
A recent Moneysupermarket.com report revealed jobs with the highest rate of drug- and drink-driving. Eight out of the 10 worst rated jobs are within the construction trades, with scaffolders ranked the worst. On average scaffolders pay an extra £470 for auto coverage following a conviction.
On the other hand, women typically have professions that rank very low on the Moneysupermarket.com risky jobs list.
For example, most midwives have one of the lowest rates of DUI convictions and most midwives are women. The occupation of midwife precludes low pricing and it just so happens mostly women are able to benefit from this fact.
Furthermore, the overall assumption by many in the insurance industry is that women also tend to driver fewer miles, have a lower number of crashes (mostly non-serious), and fewer DUI convictions.
Did the EU Gender Ruling Make a Positive Change?
It seems the EU gender ruling has put the emphasis back on driving habits and driver history. This approach to pricing is more acceptable to the majority of consumers. After all, being evaluated for car insurance based on one’s motor vehicle record seems pretty reasonable.
As British tabloid The Guardian concluded: “Now [insurers] have to price…according to rather more concise data reflecting your individual driving behavior….Car insurance may have become less equal. But it is more fair.”