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gothick_matt

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Random ramblings of a programmer, photographer, journalist and runner


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laptop, geek, MacBook, bursting, breakout
gothick_matt

Insewerants

Just heard that today is the day there's a ruling on whether charging blokes more for car insurance is a form of sex discrimination.

My first thought on hearing this was, "D'uh! Of *course* it's a form of sex discrimination. But that doesn't actually mean it's a bad -- or even unfair -- thing to do..."

But then perhaps I've been blinded by being in the insurance trade for so long. It's been about fifteen years now, come to think of it...

What d'you think, people? Should it be illegal for insurers to charge women less for car insurance because they cost insurers less?

What about my line of work? Is it a *bad* form of age discrimination to charge an eighty-year-old more for medical insurance than a twenty-year-old?

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I wonder if men tend to write off more cars[1] because they're generally taller -- maybe it's the distance between the brain and the brake pedal...

I'm not sure where I stand on your last point. Car insurance isn't one of the insurance industries I've been involved in, so I've not seen just how well-divided the figures are.

There's a correlation in the health insurance market (women are a smidge more risky than men) but not enough for the companies I've worked for to bother rating one sex higher than the other, even if the question is easy to ask. Some other health companies *do* charge women more, and I wonder if they'll have to stop now, even though there may be a more obvious causal link in health insurance than in car insurance?

(Incidentally, some reports I've just read are claiming that women get charged more for health insurance because they live longer. Which isn't the correlation I'm talking about; PMI is paid for annually, and average claims costs *per year per person* are higher for women *of the same age* as male comparison groups. In the UK market, where contracts are renewed annually, saying women pay more for health insurance because they live longer is a bit like someone paying more for car insurance because they drive a car for more years. True, but not necessarily relevant...)

[1] I've often heard it said that the main difference in costs between sexes is not the number of accidents, but because men tend to smash cars up a lot more seriously when they crash, but I can't see any available stats on that...

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Interesting -- none of the places I've worked do half-hour interviews. You've just filled out a form or two. Generally speaking, detailed questions are more likely to be used for medical underwriting -- personal exclusions, in other words -- than as rating factors. Is it possible those questions were to draw you out on historic medical problems which would then have been excluded from the new policy, rather than to weight the premium?

I would give a few details of our rating factors, but I suspect we'd be straying into commercially confidential territory, as opposed to the more general talking we've been doing. But I'd say that many of the larger PMI providers in the UK will rate using virtually nothing but age for many of their products. There are definitely some car insurers who use more rating factors than some medical insurers, even if they just rate based on age, no claims bonus, sex, postcode and annual mileage.

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Well, it would certainly be interesting if car insurance worked the same way. "What, you ran into the back of someone last year? Well, yes, certainly we'll insure you for the coming year. But we won't pay out any claims related to you running into the back of someone. You're on your own if that happens..."

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