The downside of equality - MoneySense

The downside of equality

Young female drivers could soon pay as much for auto insurance as men.

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Young female drivers have long enjoyed a big advantage over their male peers: cheaper car insurance rates. Until recently, it was hard to argue reverse discrimination. The stats clearly showed that young men have far more accidents. But gender roles aren’t just changing at home and in the workplace, they’re changing on the roads too. These days women seem to be driving more like men—and if recent trends continue, it won’t be long before both genders are paying the same.

Twenty or 30 years ago, a young male paid as much as 150% more in premiums compared with a young female, whereas today, a young man might pay 20% more. The main reason for the change in premiums is the simple fact that young females now spend more time behind the wheel, so they get into more accidents. “When I was young, I picked up my girlfriend and drove her everywhere, even though she had a licence,” recalls Jim Christie, a 60-year-old insurance expert with Ernst & Young. “Today, both young men and young women are out driving cars.”

Christie has also noticed a change in young women’s driving behaviour. “This is anecdotal, but when I see young drivers today weaving in and out of the highway and speeding—things that inexperienced people do because they believe they’re invincible—it’s a female as often as it’s a male.”

Christie points out that the auto insurance premiums have always been the same for men and women with more than 10 years of driving experience, and he won’t be surprised if that soon becomes true for young drivers too. After all, one major insurance company is already reporting that over the last five years, losses from young female drivers in Ontario were already higher than they were for young men.

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