How Gender Affects Car Insurance Rates

Did you know that your gender can impact how much you pay for car insurance? We'll explain why that is and how much it can affect you.
Young woman driving.

Everybody pays a different amount for car insurance. This is because auto insurers examine several unique things about you, such as your age, driving record, and credit history. They then use these as factors to figure out your overall risk or reliability as a driver and decide how much you should pay.

But did you know that your gender can play a role in how much you pay for coverage? Per research from the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) in 2017, women often tend to pay higher premiums, with everything else held equal, than men. The CFA’s study reveals that this usually occurs as women get older, even as they get more driving experience in their 30s and 40s.

Though it’s not entirely clear why women would pay more than men, it could have something to do with risk. Perhaps insurance companies believe that women are, on average, riskier drivers than men.

Not everyone thinks that women pay more, though. The Insurance Information Institute (III) notes that women usually pay less for coverage because they normally avoid accidents and serious traffic violations such as DUIs.

The CFA also points out that most Americans believe that, instead of women, men pay more for auto coverage. They say that roughly 48% of people think that men pay more, whereas a smaller 23% of people believe that women do indeed face higher rates.

In this article, we’ll look at how being either a man or a woman can impact your auto premium. We’ll explain why insurers use gender as a rate factor and why women may pay more than men. Finally, we’ll talk about which states don’t allow companies to use gender or sex as a factor in deciding auto rates.

Why Gender Is a Rate Factor

Car insurance companies use various factors to figure out your rates. They do this to assess your level of risk as a driver and customer. You’ll pay more if they see you as risky, and you’ll pay less if you appear safe and reliable. Below is a list of common rate factors:

Gender is just another one of many factors that providers use to decide your rates. Based on the data they collect, some insurers believe that your sex reflects a certain amount of risk. This means that your rates could go up or down depending on which box you check no matter how spotless your driving record is.

It’s not exactly clear how any company in the industry concludes that members of one sex carry more risk than another. One could say that there’s bias in favor of one over the other. While this may or may not be true, note that the algorithms for setting your rates are very complex. There are lots of details in play that can make your premium go up or down, not just gender. The other factors could work in a way that makes women pay more than men or vice versa.

Why Women May Pay More for Coverage

Women can tend to pay much more than men for coverage as they get older. The CFA reports that women can pay at least $100 more annually than men in some cases. This could be for any number of reasons, but it likely comes from a belief that women are riskier drivers or may file more claims than men.

But data proves this isn’t always the case. Fatality statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) show that men are far more likely to die in car crashes per year than women. For instance, the number of motor vehicle crash deaths for male drivers in 2019 more than doubled the number for female drivers. Statistics from the IIHS also reveal that the proportions of deaths caused by speeding and alcohol usage were much higher from 1982 to 2019 for male drivers than female drivers.

So, why would women pay more for coverage if men are statistically twice at risk to be in a fatal accident? The answer could be injury risk per accident.

The IIHS published an article in 2021 that notes that women have a higher risk of sustaining injuries or dying in an accident. Specifically, they say that, on a per-crash basis, women are 20-28% more likely to die in an accident and 37-73% more likely to suffer a serious injury than men. The IIHS mentions that this is because women tend to drive lighter vehicles and are usually in the struck vehicle when a collision occurs.

Women’s heightened chance to die or sustain an injury in an accident may be a reason for higher insurance rates. This is because they could end up filing more expensive personal injury claims. Keep in mind that there’s no definite explanation for why women pay more than men.

Why Some Men Pay More

There are some instances where men may pay higher premiums than women. Per a recent article from Car and Driver, this is often the case when men are below the age of 25. Insurers view young men as one of the most at-risk age groups to get in serious accidents and file lots of claims.

A 2020 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that young male drivers aged 16-19 had a motor vehicle death rate that was three times higher than their female counterparts. While teens are at the highest risk of getting in accidents, your rates will still be high in your early 20s and will decrease as you age and get more experience behind the wheel.

Insurance companies often view young men and teen drivers as high-risk because of numerous factors. This can include things such as inexperience, speeding, and a higher chance of consuming drugs and alcohol before driving.

States That Don’t Allow Gender as a Rate Factor

Some states prohibit the use of gender when pricing your auto premium. This is because lawmakers in these states believe that it’s unfair to penalize or reward someone financially because of the sex listed on their driver’s license.

Your gender could, after data analysis, designate you a high-risk driver. But there aren’t many concrete facts to back it up and prove that one is riskier than another. Because of the apparent inequality based on unclear speculation, it makes sense why states would choose to toss out this rate factor.

The following states ban the use of gender in auto insurance pricing:

How to Get Lower Rates

Changing gender isn’t easy, but lowering rates is within everyone’s wheelhouse. If you think your rates are too high, below are some steps you can take to make them more affordable:

  • Drive safely. Staying out of accidents and avoiding run-ins with police can help your rates stay low.
  • Look for discounts. Try bundling or adding multiple vehicles to your policy to lower costs.
  • Find another insurer. One company may charge members of one sex more than another. Shop around for a better deal.
  • Drive less. Staying off the road can help you avoid costly tickets and accidents.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can insurers ask about gender?

Insurers can ask about your gender when you buy coverage from them. They can also use this information to determine your insurance rates in most states. Keep in mind that some states don’t allow the use of gender when pricing your policy, including:

  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Massachusetts
  • Montana
  • Pennsylvania
  • North Carolina
  • Michigan

Do women pay less for car insurance?

Women generally pay more for coverage than men. Especially as they age. Though, this depends on the company and state. But young men often pay higher auto rates than women of the same age because of higher risk and inexperience.

Do I have to identify as a male or female when getting a quote?

You may not have to self-identify as a specific sex in some states. These are usually the states that don’t allow insurers to use this personal information as a factor to determine your rates. Be sure to contact your agent or provider for more info on gender identification options.


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