/ Money

Not married? Watch your car insurance rise

Married figures alongside piles of coins

Should life be cheaper if you have a ring on your married finger? Sadly, it often is, and our research has discovered a new example to add to the list – car insurers are often charging more if you’re not married.

Life has long been cheaper for those who choose to share rings and nuptials.

First there are benefits like married couple’s allowance and widow’s benefit. Then there’s the advantage of being able to pass possessions and assets on to each other tax free, making capital gains tax and inheritance tax a whole lot more appealing.

And with a pro-marriage government in power it was hardly surprising to hear hints at tax breaks for married couples emerge from the recent Conservative party conference:

‘The Prime Minister has made it clear that in this Parliament the government will recognise marriage in the tax system,’ Iain Duncan Smith told his peers.

Don’t single people out

As someone who’s in a committed (mortgage, kids) – but unmarried – long-term relationship, I’ve got used to the fact that I’m often overlooked for financial incentives like these. But that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped being annoyed when another announcement is made to benefit married people.

And this time it was our own research that got my ring-less fingers shaking with anger. It found that divorced or single drivers can pay over a quarter more for their car insurance couples.

OK, luckily for me, cohabiting couples are looked on more favourably than singles, but I still find it hard to believe that marital status is any kind of indicator about driving skills. My principles about not being married make me angry on behalf of singles being unfairly penalised.

Are principles affecting premiums?

The Which? Money team surveyed twelve leading insurers and found that eight varied premiums according to the marital status of the driver. RAC charged a 27-year-old divorced or dissolved man 28% more than a cohabiting or partnered motorist, while both More Than and RIAS quoted premiums that differed by as much as 10%.

So what’s the reason for penalising singles? Seven of the eight insurers that differentiated on marital status put the differences down to their “claims experience”, but couldn’t be more specific.

Our car insurance expert Dean Sobers, who did the research, said:

‘We were surprised to find that marital status would affect what a driver would pay. We really can’t explain why this would be the case, but then again, apparently neither can the insurers.

‘The confused messages we got make it all the more important to shop around for insurance and think carefully when filling in quote forms.’

Quite. I’m often so defensive about the “are you married?” question that I choose to deflect given half the chance. Our research found that making the wrong choice – or selecting “not disclosed” – could add to the premium.

Having just renewed to a more expensive premium, I’m wondering if I ticked the “not disclosed” box on my documents. Maybe I’m just letting my principles get in the way?

Is it right for couples to get cheaper car insurance than singles?

No (63%, 143 Votes)

Yes (37%, 85 Votes)

Total Voters: 228

Loading ... Loading ...
Comments
Profile photo of frugal ways
Member

Playing about with online quote documents can show some revealing discrepancies.
Ive been given differing car insurance quotes for jobs (company director v manual worker v civil servant) for both myself and when the wife’s occupation has been taken.

Demographics are killing the consumer, it is also discrimination and shouldn’t be allowed. It’s not just car insurance, supermarket pricing, other forms of insurance, energy, etc, our information is being used to set prices against us all and get maximum profits, whilst killing competition in the market place.

How can I be charged a price for car insurance (or any other product) based on the average spending or actions of others?
The commission paid to switching sites is also averaged out and added to our prices, the customer really has no chance at all.

Member
John Symons says:
25 October 2011

What married couple’s allowance? On the main point, premia should be linked to risk, including men versus women, European Court of Justice! Clutching at straws now: single people more likely to be rushing to their next date? Single people less concerned about the impact of their death on other family members?

Profile photo of Hannah Jolliffe
Member

Hi John there’s some more information about married couple’s allowance here – it’s only available to older couples, so wouldn’t be a factor to sway me into getting hitched!

Member
nicknick says:
28 October 2011

If insurance companies knew if we eat organic or non-organic food they would use it as a criteria. It is just a numbers game. They have sophisticated programs that do the math, and as the numbers are large they can get statistical probabilities.

Each insurer will look to target particular segments, but as the competition is fierce and we generally get the benefit of lower prices because of that, we shouldn’t complain too much. I do notice that having a long term partner (as Hannah) does put me into that ‘married’ bracket generally (which I see if I make a mistake on the online forms)

But the biggest tip is to use the comparison sites. Those insurers that are not on them and use it as a marketing ploy – yes I am talking about Direct Line here – are in my experience more expensive than the comparison sites. Although loyalty generally doesn’t pay so you should check each year (and not just one comparison site either)

Profile photo of frugal ways
Member

The price of car insurance is at a record high, we have to “compare” just to get the price we would normally have got, anyone that doesn’t pays over the odds, sometimes many hundreds of pounds more.

There’s also other big issues with insurance that I would hope which? would tackle;
– What is fully comprehensive today?
Insurance with lots of exclusions unless another fee is paid is not what I’d call comprehensive.
– Does our car insurance cover us or a vehicle?
Many no longer insure me to drive other vehicles because I have a small van, even when I’m fully comp.
Almost all now require my policy to be renewed with what amounts to a whole new policy added on, but sell it as the same insurance. If that makes sense?
If I want to keep another vehicle and insure it, my no claims suddenly don’t count, even though I can only drive one vehicle at a time and my risk of a claim remains exactly the same.
I’ve yet to find a vehicle that requires its own policy of insurance and am told, that my insurance covers me?
Which is it as it cannot be both?

Profile photo of richard
Member

Frugal

The reasons why premiums are at a record high is simple – the injury claims made are at a record high – the costs of repairs are at a record high – and the number of UNinsured drivers are at a record high – you can’t have it both ways – ALL of these increases must be paid by current drivers.

Cover depends entirely on the conditions set by the Insurance company – They are free to call any insurance “comprehensive” if they decide it IS comprehensive in comparison to their Other policies – it is nothing to do with other companies.

There can be no general statements – it depends entirely on YOUR insurance – that is why you should read it carefully BEFORE you pay.the premium.

My insurance covers me for damages to my car (and any car involved in the accident if required) and my and third party injuries plus any car I drive with the owner’s permission that I don’t own or hired under a hire purchase agreement/ It says so clearly on the cover note..

The only time an insurance covers two owned cars is if BOTH cars are mentioned on the Insurance cover note.

Sorry the chances are that many companies have refused to cover you because you are regarded as a high risk due to previous problems (accidents – offences – etc) – not because you drive a small van. Being fully comp only covers you for the van you have insured – not some unknown vehicle.

How many accidents or traffic offences do you have over how many years??

I have a clean licence and no claims for 64 years.

Though you could get an expensive commercial insurance.which will cover for ‘any’ vehicle..

Profile photo of frugal ways
Member

Richard,
“The reasons why premiums are at a record high is simple – the injury claims made are at a record high – the costs of repairs are at a record high – and the number of UNinsured drivers are at a record high – you can’t have it both ways – ALL of these increases must be paid by current drivers”
* Have I made any injury claims? No
Have I generated high repair claims for my insurance company? No
Have I been driving uninsured? No
My insurance used to be charged on the basis of my car, my engine size, my personal record of insurance, etc.
In todays world, I am penalised financially by demographics – as my ex car insurance company told me, there are now more than 140 different catagories applied to each customer on deciding their insurance premiums.
Proof, if needed, comes everytime my insurance comes up for renewal each time on different things. This time it is married and single demographics, previously I have seen prices differ with employment, etc.
Never have we had so much of our information taken and stored, than we have in the past few years. It’s getting worse.
Demographic pricing is wrong, plain and simple. I can see no justification for it. It affects our petrol prices, our weekly food shopping, our insurances, etc.
Bank charges were stopped as they were not permitted because they were down to an averaging out of losses being recovered the following year, the individual wasn’t causing the actual loss they were being charged for.

“Cover depends entirely on the conditions set by the Insurance company – They are free to call any insurance “comprehensive” if they decide it IS comprehensive in comparison to their Other policies – it is nothing to do with other companies.”
* I do hear you, but comprehensive policies no longer include car hire, etc. Extra premiums are payable and often added to policies and sold as “Your years fully comprehensive cover with guarateed hire car…” unless the individual asks, the extra cost is not highlighted, which other industry is able to get away with this type of selling? None that I can think of, a good example is PPI claims now being made for the way a product has been sold being unlawful.
Comprehensive insurance is not what comprehensive cover was when I started driving 17 years ago. So many features of it can only be bought with extra premiums.

The issue with “other companies” arises, as the more people “compare” the more information is gathered and the more different companies simply match each other.

Are you aware of the £1000 agreements that car insurance companies have with each other?
Any claims that are under £1000 in value are not contested, as long as a repair bill is submitted for records. A small scratch to a bumper can have a £600 claim submitted by the claiming party, insurance companies will not contest it and pay it out.

“My insurance covers me for damages to my car (and any car involved in the accident if required) and my and third party injuries plus any car I drive with the owner’s permission that I don’t own or hired under a hire purchase agreement/ It says so clearly on the cover note..
The only time an insurance covers two owned cars is if BOTH cars are mentioned on the Insurance cover note”
* My cover is the same as yours, ie, 3rd party on any other vehicle.
However, I am informed by 99% of companies that as my vehicle is classed as a van – it always was – I am not indured to drive any other vehicle 3rd party.
The 2 companies that will insure me as I have been for the past 6 years, both want in effect, to virtually double the yearly premium, running two policies in other words.

The chances of a small van owner, fully comp, being unable to drive any other vehicle, with 3rd party cover on their policy is very high indeed.
The AA, aviva, etc, all big names state this at the end of their quotes.
Next time you have a little bit of time, hit some of the major insurance companies and attempt an online quote, then go back and change your marital status, employment, etc, and reevaluate it, watch the prices change.
This isn’t because of claims going up etc, this is based on completely on demographics.

Profile photo of richard
Member

Frugal

For the last time – Insurance companies do not work on individuals – they work on groups.- whether you like it or not – don’t go on about it.

If you are a driver – you will – whether you like it or not – have to pay your share of the TOTAL cost of ALL driving.- that includes high repair charges – high injury claims – uninsured drivers.

Do you really think that insurance companies are going to say ” oh that’s al-right we’ll pay the increases out of our profits so you don’t suffer”?

What total nonsense they are there to make a profit – not a loss.

It is exactly like National Insurance – you pay your portion of the ENTIRE Cost if you work – whether you make a claim or not . In return NI covers the cost of your problem IF you need it.

You keep going on about your circumstances – It has nothing to do with YOUR circumstances but everything to do with the risk assessment of the individual insurance company.makes – not you – the insurance company – They then offer a cover based on THEIR assessment – not yours.- If you don’t like it don’t start the contract – because that is what it is. Not something you can twist for your own convenience. You want something for nothing – it doesn’t work like that.

If you don’t like it feel free to start up an insurance company – then you’ll understand why they work on groups. It is too expensive and very likely to be inaccurate to work on individuals which you seem to insist on – Risk and assessment do not work your way if the insurance company is to make a profit – and that is why they are there – not a charity for your every whim..

Profile photo of frugal ways
Member

Richard,

You cannot see the woods for the trees!
The whole point of the initial post is that married persons are being charged lower prices than single people.
Car insurance is worked out on both groups and the individual’s record, even a mere wally brain like me can see this, hence why I posted it earlier.
The issue is, that instead of groups such as vehicle type, engine size, crime record in area, where the vehicle is kept overnight, individual age, etc, as we knew insurance was about, for a few years now demographics are being used alongside the traditional groups to push up prices and increase profits.
By this I mean differing employment, marital status, etc, results in different prices for the same individual criteria.
Record pay outs in claims, are down to a regulator and competition commission which have the same view as you do, “they can charge what they want” – I believe they are wrong.
The £1000 repair agreements in place between companies to not contest a repair – the customer is paying the costs for this, in record high premiums. How this is not an anti competition measure defies belief!

“Do you really think that insurance companies are going to say ” oh that’s al-right we’ll pay the increases out of our profits so you don’t suffer”?
What total nonsense they are there to make a profit – not a loss”
* Amazing, you have just assumed my point of view, asked a question based upon your own assumption and answered it all in the same statement.

“You keep going on about your circumstances – It has nothing to do with YOUR circumstances but everything to do with the risk assessment of the individual insurance company. ”
* so my no claims discount/past record has no bearing on the price I’m offered for my insurance?

“You want something for nothing – it doesn’t work like that.”
* Again, another assumption.
I don’t want anything for nothing. I want fairness and equality.
I don’t believe that an unemployed person/manual worker, etc, should pay higher premiums than a company director/civil servant.
The insurance companies charging this way are using demographics to maximise profits, nothing less.
Like any statistic, a demographic can be manipulated by companies in all industries to maximise profit.
Direct line insured me for 14 years, for the 15th year the price of my policy went from £370 to £740 – full no claims available, no prosecutions etc.
After three members of staff looked into it thinking it was “a mistake” a senior billing manager confirmed it was correct. The only thing that was suggested for the rise in price, was that perhaps it was because I was able to drive any other vehicle with 3rd party insurance, as this was not offered by their competitors, but they couldn’t be certain.
That is not what I would call fairness.

“If you don’t like it don’t start the contract – because that is what it is. Not something you can twist for your own convenience.”
* So it’s fine for the insurance companies to twist contracts to obtain higher profits?
I don’t drive then I don’t work. Not for my convenience, I, like millions of other people are trapped into paying record prices for vehicle insurance.
The last government changed the law so that each vehicle must have an insurance policy on it, before road tax can be obtained. Insurance companies still allow a vehicle to be added to a policy, however now they will no longer allow any no claims discount to be applied to the second vehicle, which pushes up the costs so that in effect, two policies are being paid for.

Contrary to your opinions, I know full well that profits are to be made, but all the new “groups” that have been introduced in recent years are demographics that have no bearing whatsoever on driving abilities of people, who are being stung at ever turn, as the original post above on married people clearly demonstrates. I BELIEVE that something needs to be done about it.

Profile photo of richard
Member

Frankly this is ludicrous – because marital status can change.easily Are you saying that if I’m living with someone under a marriage license – I will get a discount? But if if I get a divorce – or widowed – or live with someone I will be forced to pay a premium? Will I have to produce my marriage license as proof (which it won’t be unless a law is passed to surrender marriage licences)? Will I have to get a statement from a “responsible” party like for a passport? It would be unworkable

Insurance companies are private firms out to make a profit – they are not some form of charity – The conditions they apply are usually due to EXPERIENCE – so group conditions applied are completely fair in their eyes. It is exactly why some firms refuse to cover certain sections of the community because they consider the risks too high – and I agree with them.

Would I cover a driver of 17 with 3 months experience in a new Ferrari for the same (or even near to the same) premium as a 30 year old with 12 years experience in a Ford Focus – a definite NO!

The excesses that are applied also reflect reality – I saved £200 a year for having a £250 excess.because it meant I would not claim from the insurance for very slight bumps – never had one incidentally. .

All premiums are calculated pro-actively NOT retroactively – It would be far too expensive to calculate INDIVIDUAL premiums for mass insurance. Very expensive insurances are provided on an individual basis – My friend (under 28) paid the equivalent of £100,000 per annum for “Road Traffic Acts” only for his brand new Lamborghini- after three years of having a very expensive accident per year (which he paid every single cost of each accident) – he then changed to a Morris Minor.

You as a customer have a choice – read your insurance policy carefully so YOU understand it fully or suffer the consequences.

An insurance company’s only obligation is to cover you for exactly the conditions as in the contract provided you have paid the premium. NO more.

Profile photo of richard
Member

Forgot to add – Don’t insure with companies that impose a premium for not being married – and tell them so.. (I’m widowed and haven’t fancied another since my wife died) I do wish this Forum had an edit function!!!

Profile photo of frugal ways
Member

Dare I touch on the installments trick imposed by all insurance companies?

You pay by monthly instalment, but 6 months in, you find a cheaper quote elsewhere.
You switch your insurance over to the new company but your old company now charge you fees.
They also charge you for an insurance loan, where they pay your premium upfront then charge it back to you at a monthly rate, very profitable for them.
When you switch before the end of your 12 months, the charges are “penalty charges” not recovering actual loss, as the insurance company decided to pay themseleves your premium in full and loan it back to you, not the individual.

Under common law these charges are not enforceable, I’ve yet to pay one, but many thousands of people do without question, not realising that they are being stung.

Profile photo of richard
Member

Frugal

The reason you have problems getting insurance is in the statement “Under common law these charges are not enforceable, I’ve yet to pay one, but many thousands of people do without question, not realising that they are being stung.” If there is a charge for various changes the insurance has to make – pay it – or face the consequences. You are breaking the contract not them.

You do not dictate the charges the insurance company does – they are not charities for your convenience. Frankly if you do not understand the cost of running a business which you apparently don’t it is a waste of time discussing it.

Why do you think you can change your mind – then refuse to pay the charge the company asks – quite rightly in my mind – just like mortgages – if you decide to change the conditions of your mortgage you are charged whether that is simply paying your mortgage off in one payment – because you are breaking the contract with the company – they are there to make money not fawn on your whim.

Companies generally do not calculate individual charges but use a standard charge – I don’t care whether or not you like it – that is the reality – it is cheaper for them to do so.- So continue to suffer insurance companies refusing to insure you.

No wonder insurance companies refuse to cover you – I wouldn’t either.

Profile photo of frugal ways
Member

“The reason you have problems getting insurance is in the statement “Under common law these charges are not enforceable, I’ve yet to pay one, but many thousands of people do without question, not realising that they are being stung.”
* Yet another assumption…. I have no problems getting insurance at all.

“If there is a charge for various changes the insurance has to make – pay it – or face the consequences. You are breaking the contract not them.”
* The reason I have yet to pay one of these charges is because they are written into the contract, they do not reflect “actual loss” ie, loss created by myself up until or on that date.
£15 charge to change the date of a direct debit on an insurance policy does not reflect “actual loss” – which makes this charge a “penalty charge” and as such is unenforceable under common law in England and Wales.
I am not breaking the contract in this example.

However, if I finish my policy 6 months in and I pay by installments, I am not responsible for the insurance company’s own policy, which is to pay itself the full premium then loan it back to me, so they can charge interest on each month’s installment.
The contract runs from month to month, my only charge should be for that current month’s premium, not the remaining 6 months.
Unfortunately, insurance company senior billing staff agree and wipe the charges.

“Frankly if you do not understand the cost of running a business which you apparently don’t it is a waste of time discussing it”
* Frankly, if you do not understand the basis and legal precedent of what is a “penalty charge,” which you apparently don’t, it is a waste of time discussing it

“Why do you think you can change your mind – then refuse to pay the charge the company asks”
* It is common law and has a legal precedent dating back over 100 years…

“they are there to make money not fawn on your whim”
* Agreed, but only when they are within the law.

“Companies generally do not calculate individual charges but use a standard charge ”
* Which is why in the case of banks/credit card companies, they repaid Millions of pounds of charges (and continue to reverse Millions of pounds of charges), when the head of the British bankers association (at the time) the MD of Barclays, let slip to a parliamentary committee that the price of charges were reached by banks taking their total loss/written off money from the year before and averaged them out over the number of charges they forecast for the following financial year, to get the price of each charge.
“Actual loss” caused by the individual, is the only charge that can be made under common law in England and Wales, this is applicable to ALL types of contract, whether written, verbal, inferred, etc.

“I don’t care whether or not you like it – that is the reality – it is cheaper for them to do so”
* They are profiting from the charges they impose, I don’t care what you think, in the real world if they [ALL companies, insurance or otherwise] refuse to provide a breakdown of their charges then I am within my rights to question the validity of them. I just ask the question, it is the companies that then reverse or waiver the charges.
If you think £15 is the actual cost for a call centre operator to click on a box on my account notes, typing in a new date for a direct debit to come out, then clicking “save” [a generous 5 minute phone call] – then can I suggest that you start questioning various businesses when they issue you with charges in the future and read up on your rights.

“So continue to suffer insurance companies refusing to insure you.
No wonder insurance companies refuse to cover you – I wouldn’t either”
* You assume again. Once again you assume wrong!
I have not posted that any company has “refused to cover” me.

I really would have hoped that as a teacher, you would have encouraged your pupils to know their rights and question things?
Or as you are attempting to do with me, did you teach with arrogance that what you believe is 100% accurate and they should just accept everything from businesses?

I respect your opinions as differing as they are, why can’t you respect mine?

Profile photo of richard
Member

Incidentally – I used to teach “Risk and Assessment” as a part of “Everyday Maths” to 14 to 16 non exam groups to equip them for life – Until Thatcher decided to impose the National Curriculum on state schools – so I was forced to teach Boolean Algebra instead.

Interesting isn’t it that risk and assessment are still used and not understood – and now not taught .- Never really seen the use of Boolean Algebra in everyday life