Do single women pay more for car insurance than someone who’s married or living with their partner?

It’s a question many of us don’t know the answer to, but was recently raised on Women’s Hour after the broadcaster Lauren Laverne 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.

Car insurance can cost more if you’re the only driver on your policy. 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.

But do insurance companies charge 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?

According to the Association of British Insurers, which represents most of the insurance companies:

  • If you’ve added your husband or partner 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? Insurers 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.

Interestingly, the ABI says 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 for car insurance if you are single or separated?

According to the price comparison website, GoCompare, insurers do 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.

They compared the cost of insurance for a:

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

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

Here are the results (annual, fully comprehensive):

ScenarioCheapestAverage 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

Why do single people pay more for car insurance?

While it may seem to be based on antiquated notions of relationship statuses, data shows that single people pay more for car insurance as they are statistically more likely to have an accident and make a claim than married couples. In fact, some figures suggest that singles are twice as likely to have an accident than married couples.

The good news is if you are in a relationship and are living with your partner, but aren’t married, some insurers will treat you the same as a married couple and offer you lower premiums. This is still not the norm across all insurers, so it’s good to check whether your provider will do this.

Of course there are always exceptions to the rule and your relationship status is only one of many factors your insurer will look at when it calculates how much you should pay. It’s likely that if you are a single, safe driver with no claims history, your premiums will be lower than a married person who has made several claims.

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Is it better to put single or divorced when applying for car insurance?

As with any insurance, it’s important to be completely honest when you apply otherwise you could invalidate your policy and find yourself unable to claim. Despite this, detailing whether you are divorced or single can be a difficult question to answer. You could be both single and divorced, so the definition isn’t clear cut.

If your divorce happened recently or it feels recent, it’s probably worth putting divorced. If you are back in the dating pool and your divorce feels like a distant memory, then stating that you are single could be a better option. Ultimately, how you answer is up to you, and you shouldn’t let the potential cost sway you from answering honestly.

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 haven’t made a claim or haven’t made one for a while, and don’t have a load of points on their licence.
  • 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.

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