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What does the chart show?
The chart shows the battle of the sexes when it comes to driving. Put away the tired old preconceptions about female drivers and boy racers. Here is what the hard data — as collected by price comparison site confused.com — says about who is driving, and who is doing it best. And, crucially, what that means for your insurance premiums.

While the UK population as a whole has slightly more women, the driving population is skewed towards men. And men tend to do better when they start out, with a higher record of passing tests and passing first time.

So men are better drivers?
No, that is where the good news ends for men. Last year, 585,000 drivers were taken to court for road offences in England and Wales. Men outnumbered women by a ratio of almost 4:1. In all of the major categories of offence — speeding, careless driving, drink driving, having no insurance and no tax — there were more men than women. In speeding, for example, men outnumbered women by more than 3:1.

Men also admit to having bad driving habits, such as not indicating when changing lanes and driving too close to the car in front.

The situation is little better when it comes to insurance claims. There were more than 700,000 car insurance claims last year. Nearly two-thirds of them came from men, and they were also more likely to be at fault when making a claim.

Claims from men are also more expensive. The average payout to men, at £3,271, was 5 per cent higher than the average payout to women. That might partly be because men tend to drive more expensive cars — the average value of a man’s car is £8,654, while for women it is £7,090.

Do insurance companies charge men more, given how much more risky they are?
The EU gender directive says insurance companies are not allowed to use gender as a basis for pricing their policies.

Nevertheless, women tend to pay less than men for their car insurance. According to Confused.com, the average premium for men is £793 per year while for women it is £701. The gap has narrowed slightly over time — in June last year, men were paying £120 more than women. Still, over the past decade men have paid on average £3,327 more than women for their car insurance.

Are insurers breaking the law?
No, but they have become a lot more granular when it comes to assessing risk. Rather than basing their assumptions on gender and postcode, insurers look at a much wider range of data. Some of this is from customers, the rest comes from their own records and public databases.

This includes previous convictions, claims and the type of car driven. The idea is to draw a far more accurate picture of exactly how likely each person is to make a claim and how much those claims are likely to cost. The result is that, as women have fewer attributes that suggest they will make large claims, their premiums tend to be lower.

The same is true of many other areas of insurance. Underwriters are using ever more data sets to make more accurate assessments about risk, from the likelihood that your home will be flooded to the impact of exercise on health insurance claims. They argue that, as a result, everyone will pay a fairer price for their cover. However, there are fears that some groups will find it too expensive to buy insurance as a result.

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