Woman shocked at higher car insurance premium when husband removed from policy

Kaitlin Ruddock
Source: Fair Go

Females are being charged higher car insurance premiums than males because they're seen as the “riskier” driver on the road.

Fair Go has received complaints from customers who have discovered they are being charged more than their husbands for car insurance.

One of those women is Raewyn McMurray, who has had her license for more than 60 years.

Aside from one crash that wasn’t her fault, she has a clean record.

But her insurance company sees her as a greater risk than her husband despite falling in the same 75 plus age bracket.

“I was just totally astounded by this” says Raewyn.

Raewyn's car is insured with AA Insurance (AAI) under a policy shared with her husband.

Only, his health has deteriorated and he's in no state to drive.

So when the policy came up for renewal, she rang up AAI to remove him as the main driver.

Before she made this call, her policy had cost $830 dollars a year. But while she was on the phone to AAI, she was informed her premium would increase to $919.79.

The AAI staff member explained that Raewyn was considered more of a risk than her husband “because our statistics show that women can be a little bit more riskier”.

But the staffer also shared Raewyn’s frustration, admitting to her “I do think it’s a bit… sexist”.

AA Insurance says it's already working with its staff to give them the tools to better explain to customers how the pricing process works.

And it says gender has "always" been a factor when setting car insurance premiums.

General manager of marketing Richard Park says they use claims data to assess the risk of "different groups of people".

"We have found that younger female drivers tend to have fewer accidents than their male counterparts, which means their premiums are lower. However older females are more likely to have an accident than older male drivers, which means their premiums are higher.

"This generally means that over the course of a person’s insurance life cycle, their premium will fluctuate."

Fair Go asked if it could see the data for itself but AAI declined, saying the information was "commercially sensitive".

AAI stressed that when working out risk, and indeed premiums, gender is considered along with age, claims history and things like type of vehicle and location.

"Between the ages of 25 and around 60 years of age, the data shows the risk is much more comparable between genders. This starts to diverge again from 60 years and then widens at 70 years of age, with our claims data showing older women are more likely to make a claim."

All major insurance companies use gender as a factor when calculating premiums.

A female driver learnt her premiums would go up once her husband was off the policy.

The Insurance Council New Zealand told Fair Go that under The Human Rights Act, companies are allowed to charge premiums based on risk factors including gender, if it can be backed up with data.