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Does car insurance cost more if you’re single?

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Do single women pay more for car insurance than someone who’s married or living with their partner? Find out how much extra you might be charged and what you can do about it.

Does car insurance cost more if you’re single?

Last week I was asked to do an interview on BBC Woman’s Hour about car insurance. Specifically, it was on whether single women pay more for car insurance than married women, someone in a civil partnership or those living with their partner (you can listen to the interview here – it’s about 25 minutes into the programme)

Woman’s Hour was looking into this because the broadcaster Lauren Laverne had mentioned that her mum’s car insurance premiums had risen by £200 after she told her car insurer she was widowed. The programme wanted to know if this was widespread.

In an article I’d written some time ago, about the extra costs of being single, I mentioned that car insurance can cost more if you’re the only driver on your policy (there’s a link to this article at the end of the page). In it, I said that if your husband or partner was a named driver on your policy, then you may be charged a higher premium if you get divorced or your husband/partner dies.

What I didn’t know was whether insurance companies charged women a higher premium after divorce, dissolving their civil partnership or after they’d been widowed, if they were the only driver named on their car insurance.

Car insurers premiums

I asked the Association of British Insurers (ABI) about this issue. It represents most of the insurance companies, so I thought they’d have a good overview of the market. They told me that:

  • If you’ve added your husband, civil partner or partner’s name to your car insurance, most insurers will charge you a higher premium once their name is removed. Adding a second driver to your car insurance policy can cut your premiums, as long as they are a good driver. So, you can understand why an insurer might charge you more if you take the second driver’s name off the policy.
  • If you were the sole driver on your policy, and your marital status changes to divorced, separated or you become widowed, some car insurers will increase your premiums. Why? Well, I was told they will do this if their claims history shows that women who are single, separated, divorced or widowed make more claims or more expensive claims than someone who’s married or in a civil partnership. The problem is that we only have the insurers’ word for it that they do see higher claims from single, divorced or widowed women. And we only have their word for it that the amount they raise the premiums by is justified by the increased claims.

SAVVY TIP: Interestingly, the ABI told me that not all insurers will charge single women more for car insurance. So if your insurer wants to increase your premiums, don’t assume all will.

How much more will you pay?

I then asked the price comparison website, GoCompare, to compare quotes for someone who described herself as separated, compared to someone who said she was married. I wanted to know if insurers would charge a separated woman more than someone who’s married, even if she didn’t have a second driver on her policy in the first place.

GoCompare compared the cost of an annual fully comprehensive insurance policy for a:

  • Married female main driver, no additional driver
  • Separated female main driver, no additional driver
  • Married female main driver, with husband as additional driver

All other details remained the same: vehicle, mileage, address, licence type, etc.

As you can see from the table below, a married female driver would pay around £25 – £30 a year less than a separated female driver.

Scenario Cheapest Average of top five cheapest
Married female main driver, no additional driver

 

£357.63 £404.16
Separated female main driver, no additional driver

 

£381.08 £436.40
Married female main driver, husband as additional driver

 

£326.85 £360.09

What to do if your insurer charges you more

If your insurer wants to increase your premium, there are steps you can take:

  • Ask them to justify the price rise. It won’t guarantee a lower premium, but it may make them have a rethink.
  • Consider adding someone else as a named driver. If you have grown up children, it may be worth adding one of them as a named driver. But this will only work if they are seen as lower risk than you by insurers.
  • Shop around. Not all insurers increase their premiums if you’re single or separated.
  • Consider using black box (telematics) insurance. This is where the insurer fits a black box recorder to your car. It means that your insurance premium is based on how you actually drive, not how the insurer thinks you drive.

Related articles: 

The extra costs of being single

Your guide to buying car hire excess insurance

Can a conviction invalidate your insurance? How a conviction may affect your insurance

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