INSURERS have already begun to raise their prices in advance of a European ruling which states that men and women have to be treated equally.
The European Gender Equality ruling – which comes into force on 21 December – means insurers will no longer be able to offer better prices to women than they do to men.
Analysts predict the price of car insurance for young women is likely to increase by as much as 30 per cent, while life insurance for women over fifty will be around 23 per cent more expensive.
Researchers from the price comparison website Gocompare say the last six weeks have seen the most significant rise in premiums since it launched its Gender Watch in January 2011.
The figures show the average best price for female car insurance has gone up from £748 in November to £862 on December 12. Prices for 17 and 18-year-old females have risen from £1,910 to £2,191 over the same period.
The number of insurers prepared to offer quotes for 17-year-old drivers has fallen from 35 to 32 over the last month – fuelling speculation that a number of insurers could leave the young driver market temporarily until prices stabilise.
Research carried out by uSwitch suggests as many as one-in-four younger women may have to give up their cars because of the price increases, while one-in-three say they will have to economise in other areas in order to stay on the road..
AA Insurance expert Ian Crowder said while some insurers were already operating as gender-neutral, others had already started to increases prices significantly.
He said: “We are seeing premium increases of about 30 per cent for young women drivers while young men are seeing premiums decrease by up to 10 per cent. By the time drivers reach their forties and fifties there is not much difference in price.”
He said he expected to see a rise in black-box insurance – where younger drivers are offered cash back on their insurance policies according to how well they drive. And he predicted factors such as the type of job a person does or where they live will become much more important once the gender equality ruling came into play. Gocompare.com’s head of motor insurance, Scott Kelly, said, “We’ve tracked male and female premiums for the last 23 months and this is the first real sign of movement as a number of insurers begin implementing rate changes. However, with the majority of insurers saying they are leaving full equalisation until the last minute, we are not going to see the real impact of the ruling on the best prices available until 21 December.
“One impact could be that the number of insurers offering cover for drivers of certain ages will fall as companies temporarily exit the market until prices settle down and they can then pick their price points.
“As a result, there may be less choice but the advice is still to compare all the prices available to be sure you are getting the best deal you can at that moment in time.
“We still don’t know exactly how the market is going to look post 21 December, but the assumption is that rates for female drivers will continue to rise.”