Women face higher premiums for car insurance following the implementation of an EU ruling that gender cannot be used to rate risk in late 2012.

This is likely to result in higher premiums for woman and lower ones for men. But those increases or decreases will vary depending on your age and also what insurance company you choose to buy from.

Tina Leonard tells Pat Kenny what the ruling will mean.

Actuarial and statistical data consistently presents men as a higher risk for motor insurance, particularly younger men, which is why they currently pay more. In fact the cost of premiums for males within the ages of 17 to 24 could be double that of a female the same age due to increased risk factors such as increased accident frequency and increase severity of accidents when they do occur.

From 21 December premiums for new insurance contracts have to be calculated on a unisex basis. And that should mean lower premiums for men and higher ones for women. This EU ruling will have the biggest impact here, in the UK and Spain where gender-based pricing is most commonly used.

However the difference is more likely to impact on 17 to 24 year olds as this is where the biggest price difference between men and women lies.

Premium costs between the sexes begin to even out after the age of 30.

Young female drivers worse off

AA Ireland conducted a review of eight insurers (ARB, Allianz, Aviva, Axa, Chartis, KennCo, RSA and Zurich) for prices following the gender rule change.

17 to 24 year olds

The worst affected are young female drivers with the average increase for a 25 year old up 24%. However, the increases ranged from 13% to 36% in that age category, so that shows the need to shop around.

Over 30s

The average increase for a 30 year old woman was 9%; 5% for a 40 year old; 4% for a 50 year old; 3% for a 60 year old and 2% for a 70 year old.

The same survey found a corresponding decrease for male drivers.

However the average premium decrease for 25 year old males was just 6%, so not as great as the increase on the female side. However, that is an average and the greatest discount found for a 25 year old male was 21%, which is quite a saving on last year.

For men of other ages the average decreases were: 5% for a 30 year old; 3% for a 40 year old’; 2% for a 50 year old; 4% for a 60 year old and 5% for a 70 year old.

Premiums 50% lower for some teenage boys

Independent insurance brokers chill.ie also carried out a survey.

Their analysis is based on the same policy criteria, where only the age and gender of the candidate varies, with the same Dublin based on a 1.2L car, a track record of insurance, two penalty points, and no convictions (14 insurers quoted).

They found that a current premium costing €4,317.84 for a 17 year old male would reduce to €1,833.51, a reduction above 50%. However a 17 year old female, with all other criteria identical would see her premium rise from €1,540.82 to €1,833.51.

As the ages rise however, the difference were less stark. For example, the same analysis for a 25 year old male and female showed the female paying approximately €150 more for insurance, with the male’s premium dropping €32. Analysis shows price increases between €13 and €25 for women over the age of 30, whereas the male’s policy premium is largely unaffected. For a 45 year old woman the increase was €12, with no decrease recorded for a male that age.

What this means is that it is crucial then when your motor insurance policy is up for renewal that you compare quotes.

Other ways to save on car insurance

1. Join a parent’s insurance as a named driver as early as possible, to establish a safety record, and avail of discounts on ‘own name’ insurance, based on a ‘named driver’ record, and driving experience.

2. Get a full licence as soon as possible to reduce the cost of motor insurance considerably.

3. Choose a car with a small engine; less powerful cars are cheaper to insure. Similarly, high value cars attract a higher premium.

4. Drive carefully and build up a no claims bonus.

5. Carefully consider the extent of cover you have and the excess you pay etc as changing these could lower your premium (and your cover too of course).