Men and Car Insurance

By Desiree Baughman
Desiree maintains insurance licensure in 46 states, and by combining years of experience as a writer and insurance professional, she delivers information consumers can easily relate to and understand. A graduate of Sweet Briar College with a diverse writing portfolio, she regularly serves as an expert source and commentator for respected outlets like CBS Money, Bankrate, and Ragan.com.

Men and Car InsuranceWhen it comes to car insurance, there’s no such thing as gender equality. Men get the short end of the stick on this one, but they’ve really done it to themselves. Some people might quickly assume it’s just because men drive faster than women, but that’s a generalization not rooted in facts. Women are just as likely to speed as men, but it’s a well-known fact that men enjoy pretending they’re NASCAR drivers – and that they still pay more for car insurance.

So after decades of women being bad drivers, what’s the sudden big deal about male drivers and insurance? Before men start striking for equal rights and having rallies where they burn insurance policies, there are a few things to consider.

Insurers, as always, have done their research and have legitimate reasons for concluding that men are riskier to insure than women.

Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute (III) has stated that “Men traditionally have been paying more for decades. And while the cost gap closes somewhere after age 25, it never fully closes.”

Why is that? Quite simply and in general, men take more risks when they drive. If you take more risks when you drive, there’s a higher chance you’re going to get in an accident, forcing insurers to pay out on claims. Just because an insurer provides coverage for you doesn’t mean they like getting claims. For that reason, it’s all about the risk factor when it comes to insurance companies.

Mike Barry, spokesman for the III, explains: “Certain demographics like young, single men, are going to pay more for auto insurance because history shows that they are more likely to file a claim and that they’re more expensive to insure. It’s not until they get some experience under their belts–and have a clean driving record–that rates start to drop.”

Numbers don’t lie, and ironically, this seems like more of a ‘male’ thing to say, but in this case, that’s exactly where the proof is.

Here are some statistics to help paint that whole picture for you:

  • Research firm Quality Planning found that “men are 3.4 times more likely than women to get a ticket for reckless driving and 3.1 times as likely to be cited for drunk driving.”
  • Historically, crashes involving male drivers are much more serious and cause more damage than those with female drivers.
  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that:

o   Men are involved in weekend accidents 12% more than women.

o   Men are involved in rear-end crashes 30% more than women.

o   DUI tickets for men are doled out at a 2:1 ratio to women.

Additionally, a National Department of Transportation study entitled Sex of Drivers Involved in Crashes 2000-2009 discovered that males have been involved in 18 million more accidents than females during that time. It’s hard to argue with 18 million accidents.

It’s also worth mentioning that in all other categories of driving offenses, including things like DUIs, men dominate. In 2010, the FBI reported that 716,398 men had DUIs while only 221,778 women had DUIs. Men are winning this contest and it’s a landslide victory. Men appear to be drinking (and driving) women under the table.

Men also choose cars that may not be the cheapest to insure. Perhaps you’ve always had the dream of owning a muscle car, to feel the engine’s power as you rev it up at a stop light, but your insurance company recognizes the temptation a car like that holds and will charge you higher premiums.

Why Men Take More Risks

Some have questioned the psychology behind why men are more prone to risk taking than women. This is a topic that was debated by the authors of Driving Passion: The Psychology of the Car, which suggests that the ‘territorial imperative’ might have something to do with it. Since a car can be a symbol of a man’s independence, he sees his car as his territory. When people get too close to his territory, he reacts aggressively, risking an accident.

Other studies have suggested that the hormone testosterone is the answer. Whereas women have more estrogen, men have high levels of testosterone which has been associated with qualities like aggression and risk taking. Understanding the science behind the ‘whys’ of men’s higher insurance rates may not help bring them back down, but it can lead to awareness and possibly behavior change.

Regardless of why young men consistently prove to be the riskiest drivers, as they get older and gain more experience behind the wheel, the ratio of dangerous driving between men and women begins to even out slightly. But before you resign yourself to setting aside 1/3 of your paycheck specifically for car insurance, there are ways that you can save even if the stats are working against you.

Choose a Safe Vehicle

The type of vehicle you drive has a significant impact on your insurance rate. The IIHS and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) test various vehicles every year for safety, and the insurance industry is very interested in those scores. The better a car performs in safety tests, the cheaper your insurance will be, because it means you’re better protected in a crash, which lowers the expense of settling claims. While that flashy red Corvette might be calling your name, you’ll also be the recipient of sticker shock every single month.

Take Educational Courses

When you get a ticket, you may be ordered to take a driver’s education course, but you can also take one without being prompted. This can add good driver points to your license and is also a useful reminder of just how important it is to mind the rules of the road.

Good Student Discounts

Depending on which insurance company you have, and your age, you could get insurance discounts for good grades.

Live in a Safe Neighborhood

Believe it or not, even where you live can impact your rates. Insurance companies use a variety of data, including crime statistics, to set their prices and if you park in a neighborhood renowned for auto theft, you better believe you’ll pay more than someone who stores his car in a locked garage.

Consider using Monitors

As long as you’re confident in your driving skills, consider installing a driving behavior monitor. Many insurance companies now offer these devices as a way to prove you’re a safe driver. By tracking your braking habits, speeding patterns, acceleration rate and other practices, you can reduce your insurance rates significantly.

Be a Safe Driver

The best way to maintain the lowest possible insurance rate is to be a safe driver. Avoid making claims for fender benders when you can simply pop the dent out yourself. If your car doesn’t suffer any major damage that interferes from getting from point A to point B, save up out of pocket money to fix it at a later date. Be sure to wear your seat belt, don’t speed or tailgate, and never drive drunk.

The Great Divide

While changes may be in the works (Europe has banned gender-based rates), it seems like for now, men are typically going to pay more than women when it comes to car insurance.

That may not seem like a fair way to determine insurance rates, but statistics don’t lie. Insurance companies aren’t known for being in the business of fair – they’re in the business of risk, and if you cost them more or if it appears that you will, they’re going to charge you more. This applies to everyone, regardless of gender.