The ancient stereotype notwithstanding, women drivers are statistically less likely to crash than men — it’s very seldom you’ll see a story like this about a woman — and women generally pay a smidgen less for auto insurance. The European Union, dedicated to a bureaucratic definition of equality, has ruled that this pricing is discriminatory, and as of next year, all else being equal (whatever that may mean in the insurance market), men and women must be charged the same premiums.
Insurance companies hate to be told how much they can charge, so this Reuters report should surprise no one:
Motor insurers seeking to get around a European ban on charging male drivers more than women are turning to innovative black box technology that could trigger an upheaval in the way car insurance is sold.
Britain’s biggest motor insurer, Royal Bank of Scotland, is among those testing the technology, which allows insurers to monitor customers through devices in their cars, and charge according to how riskily they drive.
Insurers, previously deterred by the high cost of so-called telematics insurance, now see it as their best hope for avoiding price hikes that could drive some customers away once the ban comes into force next year.
Specifically, they’re worried about female customers, who according to German research will be facing an average increase of 11 percent for their insurance.
And the cars are becoming readable:
The European Union’s “eCall” initiative, which aims to ensure that by 2015 car makers fit vehicles with devices that automatically dial for help in the event of a crash, could give telematics insurance a decisive boost by allowing it to piggy-back on a ready-made technological infrastructure.
The eCall black box, separate from those already fitted into motor vehicles, will dial 112 (the Continental emergency number) and transmit crash data and GPS coordinates to the authorities.