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