I have been renewing our car insurance and am struck, as always, by the disadvantage (discrimination?) faced by people who were born outside the UK. My partner was born to British parents in Australia. Every time we want to get car insurance I have to declare this, and the resulting price is £30-40 more than if she had been born in the UK. I could understand a price increase due to the increased risk of someone who has only recently moved to the UK, but my partner has been driving here for 20 years.
Even if she’d been on British roads for 50 years, it would be the same story and the price difference is significant. A comparethemarket.com survey found that drivers with a UK licence who were not born in the UK are charged average annual premiums of £837, compared to £595 paid by the average UK-born driver. Those with an international licence can expect to pay more than £1,500. Insurers call it “risk assessment”; to the rest of us it looks like discrimination.
According to the Association of British Insurers, providers always comply with equality legislation, even though the Equalities Act says customers cannot be disadvantaged because of their nationality. In practice, it seems that they can be, provided companies have strong justification for doing so. “Strong justification” in this situation is the insistence by insurers that drivers born overseas tend to make higher claims.
Alex Hasty, director at comparethemarket, says: “When calculating your car insurance premium, insurers use many factors including your age, occupation, annual mileage, address, the make and model of your vehicle, your driving history, and any no claims discount. Ultimately, insurers need to assess how likely it is that you will make a claim and they may increase the price of your premium if you passed your driving test outside of the UK.”
The Equalities and Human Rights Commission was asked to comment.
As always, insurers have different attitudes to risk and some have been known to raise prices higher for foreign-born applicants than others, so it pays to shop around.
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