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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Car insurance companies calculate the cost of premiums by assessing risk. Drivers who are at a high risk of being involved in an accident will pay more for insurance in order to compensate for their potential claims. Whenever you receive an insurance quote, the insurance company will assess your risk in order to provide you with an accurate price that reflects your driving habits.
Some of the factors that determine auto insurance are within a driver’s control. Drivers who practice safe driving habits and avoid receiving traffic citations will always have lower rates than people who have caused car accidents. Unfortunately, some risk factors are beyond a driver’s control. Issues like geographic location, age and gender play a role in determining the cost of insurance.
It’s a well-known fact that men pay more for auto insurance on average than women do, especially when they are under 25. Although a safe driving history is the most important factor in determining the cost of insurance, gender does play an undeniable role in the calculation of risk.
Why Car Insurance Companies Charge Less for Women
On a personal level, auto insurance companies determine the cost of premiums by reviewing a driver’s personal habits and history. It’s easy to tell whether a driver has been in an accident or received traffic citations by reviewing that person’s driving record. Other factors, however, are determined at a demographic level rather than on a per-individual basis. In these cases, insurance companies rely on statistical information to see driving habits across wide populations.
Car insurance companies are obsessive about locating and analyzing data so that they can make accurate guesses about driving behaviors. By reviewing the statistics of large populations of drivers, insurance companies can spot trends and determine the risk of various groups.
Statistically, women engage in fewer dangerous driving behaviors than men. A survey of driving habits between both genders shows that women are involved in fewer collisions and suffer fewer fatalities in accidents than men. Men are over three times as likely to engage in reckless driving; they’re also three times as likely to be convicted of DUI and seatbelt violations. Men also speed more and receive citations for failure to yield more than women.
All of these behaviors contribute to auto accidents. Whenever women are involved in collisions, they are most often fender benders such as rear-end accidents or situations in a parking lot. Men are much more likely to cause serious collisions that will lead to expensive claims, which is why insurance companies charge them more for insurance.
Are Women Really Better Drivers than Men?
Although men are statistically involved in more accidents than women, the forces at play are more subtle than simple driving skill. In many cases, male drivers may have more technical proficiency than women; although they are ostensibly better drivers, this technical prowess may encourage them to take risks that women will not. For example, during times of inclement weather, men may be more confident in their ability to drive and will risk going out in the rain or snow. Women, being more timid about their driving abilities, will not go out.
In general, men tend to take more risks and drive more aggressively. They are more prone to breaking laws, speeding, cutting people off in traffic and succumbing to road rage. Not all men engage in these behaviors, but it’s common enough that it affects the overall population of male drivers.
On the other hand, the larger number of accidents caused by men may be due to a higher concentration of male drivers. In couples, men often do the majority of the driving. Some women, perceiving their mates as being superior drivers, may put them behind the wheel for more difficult driving situations, such as inclement weather or congested traffic.
Additionally, many households are still structured to have men work outside of the home while women work as homemakers. The additional commuting time increases the driver’s overall risk of being involved in an accident. These culturally-ingrained behaviors may be responsible for skewing the driving statistics somewhat.
Between 1975 and 2003, the rate of female driver fatalities increased by 14%, contrasted with an 11% increase by men. This increase coincides with a higher number of women obtaining licenses and becoming more independent. The gap between driving habits is beginning to narrow. Unfortunately, the gap is narrowing in the wrong direction: More women are being involved in collisions, rather than fewer men.
Male or female, the best way to decrease the cost of your insurance is by focusing on safe driving behaviors. Obeying traffic laws, never drinking and driving and avoiding risky behaviors will help reduce your chance of being involved in a collision. Over time, if enough people focus on driving safely, they can reduce the cost not only of their own insurance but of premiums for everyone.