09 March 2011

Sheila's Wheels Come off

I am, as usual, very late to the issue, but alas life gets in the way of my witterings

I take it everybody is aware of the week-old news that insurers will no longer be able to take a person's gender into account

Now you may expect me to rail against this decision, I love to bash 'equality' with statistics and of course the statistics clearly show that men, as a group, cost more - that's a statistical truth

But I'm going to buck my own trend here, unlike say, Peter Hitchens, I do not believe that the enforcement of an equality law here is a bad thing

Yes, men cost more, but what you have to ask is - is it fair to charge the average man 60% more than a woman simply for being a man?

Surely, if he's 60% more likely to crash (or rather, claim), then yes?

While strictly speaking yes, it is cheaper to insure women as they are less likely to claim, what this really comes down to is where you draw the boundaries - why only stop at gender? You could show a difference between people with different hair colour, eye colour, height, weight, and of course skin colour - all of these features could in theory be assessed for risk

But we choose some very simple, easy to measure categories - is this fair on men?

'Because you are a man, you are more likely to crash' - well actually, for this to be true it has to be shown to be something inherent in men generally

However, we all know that this is not the case - many men are excellent drivers without a claim to their name (me included), and they are not even a minority, but we all know there are some, shall we call them 'twats', who drive like loons and write off three cars before their 18th birthday - these are the minority

Is there any link between these two types of men? Other than sharing the same chromosomal combination, no, a minority within the group force the majority to pay more because they all happen to have the same type of genitalia - as I said, it's a simple measure to use, it's easy to draw a line through sex and offer women a better deal

But it's not really fair, saying everyone of one group is more of a risk because of a small group within that, there is nothing to stop them drawing lines around any of the features I outlined (except practicality) - imagine saying 'black people claim more, therefore black people pay more'

Could be a perfectly true statement (almost certainly there's a difference either way), but it's not done, and nor would it be done, I expect, if women were shown to cost more - that would be discrimination, because quite frankly, it is, as it's pre-judging you based on your particular grouping

The only way around this is, as Hitchens junior remarked, is that men and women are different, racially you can't get away with that argument even if the stats bear out because races are considered equal, but the assumption is made that men's brains are hardwired to be more dangerous...because of the actions of a minority, which is exactly the same principle that leads to racial stereotyping

It means I am the same risk as Paul Gascoigne or Tony Blair, but clearly there are other factors at work - if I were a tiny minority then I could understand, but the fact is the majority are punished because we are arbitrarily put into the same box as the offenders, you may as well lump us in with murderers and paedophiles as we are far more likely to be them as well

Our sex has not been shown to be the overriding factor in the risk, some men are twats, but not all (or most) - it's just an easy, and very lazy, way of measuring us

So yes, it is discrimination and there is no reason why my gender should mean I pay hundreds more a year than my wife, mother or sister, unless you're a lazy insurer who wants to cash in on women costing less, us green eyed people would cost less too!


  1. Yes I broadly agree, but would add that when it costs young men several thousnad pounds to insure their first car, probably two or three times as much as it is actually worth, it is clear that the insurance industry is cheating its customers...

  2. Naturally

    Another discriminatory act I particularly dislike is making 'young' people pay as opposed to new drivers - a fifty year old learner is deemed safer than a person with ten years experience - the figures are of course dwarfed by the majority, who learnt as teenagers, so there's no incentive to be fair