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What women need to know about car insurance
The nation's car insurance rates show a gender gap — and here's why.
While it might sound counterintuitive, women and men can pay different rates for the same auto insurance coverage based on gender alone. Still, it’s easy for men and women alike to end up paying too much for car insurance.
What's in this guide?
- How is car insurance different for men vs. women?
- Why do men and women pay different rates for car insurance?
- How much do men and women pay for car insurance?
- Isn't charging one gender more sexual discrimination?
- Save by switching car insurance
- Should I go with a specialty women’s insurer?
- What if my ID doesn't match my gender identity?
- Bottom line
How is car insurance different for men vs. women?
You’ll find the following differences when looking at car insurance for men versus women:
- Men pay exceptionally higher rates under 21. But those numbers even out around middle age. Women should shop around for better rates, especially when they turn 30 and at major life events like moving and getting married.
- Men get a bigger discount for getting married, but combining policies could help both spouses save, unless one driver has a very high-risk driving record.
- Women are now more likely than men to have a college degree. Since both your job and education affect your rates, women could save on insurance for having a college degree.
Why do men and women pay different rates for car insurance?
In most states, among the range of factors that affect car insurance prices is gender, often resulting in cheaper car insurance for young women than for young men. Exceptions include California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and some parts of Michigan, which prohibit a customer’s gender from affecting their rates.
The reason? Men commit about 70% to 80% of all drunk driving offenses reported in the US each year. In 2014 alone, three times as many men than women were arrested for drunk driving — 401,904 men versus 130,480 women.
These statistics support the bias that women are generally more cautious when driving, taking fewer risks than men behind the wheel. Women also tend to rack up fewer violations on their driving records than men do, and to be involved in fewer accidents overall.
How much do men and women pay for car insurance?
Car insurance rates for men vs women by age
Isn’t charging one gender more sexual discrimination?
Legally, no. Thanks to the power of statistics, insurance companies can justify using gender to calculate insurance rates without running afoul of discrimination laws.
Simply put, young women are statistically a safer demographic to insure than young men are. Along the same lines, college professors are safer to insure than journalists, and accountants are safer to insure than traveling salespeople. Generally, the safer you are to insure, the cheaper your rates will be.
Insurance companies are also able to consider factors like your credit score when determining your insurance rate. That can sound even more counterintuitive than using your gender — how does your credit score have anything to do with your driving? But once again, studies linking poor credit scores and elevated accident risk have allowed the industry to make this practice commonplace.
Your gender and credit score affects your insurance rates in most states — but not all
An insurer can’t legally factor your gender into your car insurance if you live in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, parts of Michigan, Montana, North Carolina or Pennsylvania.
And in California, Massachusetts and Hawaii, your credit score can’t be factored into your car insurance rates. So if you’re in either Hawaii or Massachusetts, neither your credit score nor gender is going to change what you pay for auto insurance.
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Should I go with a specialty women’s insurer?
Laws prohibit insurers from barring a gender from its services, which means that if you find an insurer marketing itself for women only, it’s likely nothing more than a clever advertising gimmick.
An insurer can’t offer policies to women only, because doing so would be considered gender discrimination. Some insurers market themselves specifically for women, but also insure men. In fact, you won’t find any functional differences between the coverage offered to men and women.
What if my ID doesn’t match my gender identity?
Your insurance company is likely going to use the gender that’s listed on your ID to evaluate your risk and set rates. Given updating your gender on your driver’s license can be more than a little bit of a hassle, you may be grouped with the gender you were assigned at birth for a while.
If you need assistance with updating your gender marker, you can check your state’s motor vehicle department or check out the National Center for Transgender Equality.
If you’re a woman, it’s likely you’ll pay 10% to 15% less for your car insurance coverage than a man your age with a similar driving record will. To learn more about finding the lowest rates you’re eligible for, read our comprehensive guide to car insurance.
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