Tag Archives: car insurance

FOXY Lady Drivers Club doesn’t sell car insurance but it does provide lots of independent information to help women drivers make a foxy choice – it also encourages members to share feedback to help others, especially where there has been a problem

Could the high cost of car insurance be putting young females at risk?

taxihailingA survey carried out by price comparison website Gocompare.com has revealed that thousands of young women are putting themselves at risk by accepting lifts with strangers or with drivers who’ve either had an alcoholic drink or used recreational drugs.

Around one in 17 women (6%) aged between 17 and 25 who are non-drivers have on at least one occasion accepted a lift home with a virtual stranger.

More than one in seven (13%) have been a passenger in a car driven by someone who’d had an alcoholic drink or taken recreational drugs.

However, nearly one in five young women who don’t drive (18%) has also experienced violence, aggression or harassment directed at them or another passenger whilst using public transport.

Over a third (36%) of young women non-drivers responding to the survey said that driving and car ownership was too expensive and 38% said they could not afford driving lessons. A quarter (26%) said that they felt they had less freedom than their friends with cars.

Gocompare.com’s customer insight manager, Claire Peate, said: “There’s no doubt that learning to drive and getting your first car can be an expensive business, but it seems that some young women are taking risks with their own safety because they can’t get around as easily as their friends. Parents will be alarmed to learn that thousands of young women and teenagers are accepting lifts from people they hardly know, and are also being driven around by people who are possibly under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

“For many the alternative is to use public transport, but there again our research shows that young women have experienced aggression or harassment directed towards them or another passenger whilst using buses and trains.

“Young women, and indeed anyone, on a night out should follow some basic rules for staying safe. If you’re with a group of friends, stay together as much as possible until you’re home. Do not accept lifts from strangers and if you are offered the chance of a lift home by a friend make sure they’re in a fit state to be driving. Keep some money aside for an emergency taxi home and never be too proud to ring a parent or friend and ask them to pick you up. They’re sure to be much happier you called on them than for you to take a risk with a lift from a stranger or a drunk driver.”

From FOXY’s point of view the exorbitant cost of car insurance has a lot to do with this, thanks mainly to the 2012 Gender (Mis)Directive.

The consequences of the high cost of motoring

public transport policeKnowing that the number of young male drivers has fallen as a result of soaring insurance rates this is now our turn to be affected, regardless of statistical risk and gender safety concerns. Young females who can’t afford to drive are damned to potential harassment or worse when using public transport and occasionally taxis, are damned to isolation if they live in rural areas and damned if they then rely on richer friends to drive them home, who might take risks.

What is a young girl to do to have a social life? How is she to keep her job options open if she can’t afford to drive to move on in her career?

The insurance industry needs to think this one through again because cherry-picking rich young drivers isn’t the right way forward nor is it any guarantee of safer drivers or lesser risk. Quite the contrary it seems.


Nothing but the whole motoring truth

points_speedAfter a recent Freedom of Information report confirmed that some motorists were out and about on UK roads with as many as 45 points on their driving licence a lot of us were understandably annoyed that the ‘system’ could allow this to happen. And for how long has this been going on?

Especially knowing that points usually mean that drivers haven’t been paying attention to local road signs and conditions.

In fact it is that lack of concentration, which can so quickly become driver error, that causes serious road accidents, particularly when linked to inappropriate speed in so many cases.

But how can this be? Surely the DVLA can see the offenders (mainly men I hasten to add) and send someone round to reprimand them accordingly and remove their driving licence before their points start to accumulate…

And why don’t insurers simply withdraw their insurance cover?

The reason for this inactivity seems to be that neither the DVLA nor insurers have been on the case here as a result of inadequate information. So insurers simply don’t know if their Insured is telling the truth about endorsements/points or is simply being ‘economic with the truth’ at renewal time…

Moving records online

So the recent plan to move all driving records online seems to be a no-brainer as I see it and could even reduce the cost of car insurance for most people, say some ministers.

The systems challenge, which will be complete by mid-2015 we’re told, will end the need for the ‘paper counterpart’ document drivers have to keep with their licence. And insurers predict that honest motorists with minimum points could see their premiums fall by up to £15 a year.

Bring it on I say. And when the DVLA knows who the serial points’ offenders are who have been flouting the rules for years, they should name and shame ’em as well as ask the police to pop round and physically remove their driving licence for good order…

And motor insurers should check this database carefully too. Why should anyone with 45 points be insured at all knowing they ‘forgot’ to tell their insurer the truth.

Otherwise this makes the rest of us look like motoring muppets for bothering to play by the rules, tell the truth and pay the same car insurance premium as a serial under-declarer of points.


Weary women at work

I’m no stranger to long daily commutes which is why my attention was drawn to the findings of the latest research from Allianz Your Cover Car Insurance confirming that many women are arriving for work in a weary and semi worn out state.

Apparently Britain’s commuters are travelling an average of 7000 miles a year which is the equivalent of spending a week behind the wheel every year.

To check how I compared with this in the 90s I have just totted up my daily journey and see it came to an annual total of c12,000 miles!

I dread to think how much more expensive this must be now, based on the cost of fuel alone. Even so it involved a section of M23 and M25 motorways as well as slow cross country roads where I could often get held up by rural traffic like tractors and horse boxes. No matter where, the journey was usually stressful and I feel very smug this morning, writing this blog in my sunny office at home, feeling bright-eyed and bushy tailed so early in the morning…

Some cities are more motoring friendly than others

Apparently some cities are doing things better for motorists than others. Northampton must be doing something different compared to Coventry because a remarkable 75% of motorists enjoy their daily journey to work in Northampton whereas a meagre 36% do in Coventry – this was seen to be the worst city commute in this Allianz Your Cover research.

I must confess that I was surprised not to see Brighton on that list (the least motoring friendly city I have come across so far) but on reflection I imagine most workers live locally and use public transport. So you could say that an unhappy motoring commute might ultimately lead to a more environmentally friendly city… but I couldn’t possibly agree with any initiative that deprives us motorists from enjoying the freedom, security and convenience a car brings most women. Or me an income running the Club of course!

The safety factor

There’s a serious and safety point to be made here of course and one that more employers need to take on board within their duty of care role for staff. In the Allianz Your Cover research, nearly a third of commuters admitted to feeling tired on their journey home. And even if it isn’t you (it certainly was me when I went back to work when my son was three months old) it could be someone else on the road so we all need to be on the look out for motorists displaying dozy and potentially dangerous driving behaviour.

All this reminded me that I used to get my head down in the local car park for some zzz’s at lunchtime and I also needed to break my journey home in Handcross to pick up a pack of wine gums; that was the sugar rush I needed to complete my journey wide awake.

I didn’t realise the risk I was running in those days – my son is 19 now.

But if you’re reading this and it rings a loud bell with you today, there are some things you can do to prepare yourself for these circumstances.

1/ If a female, look out for local car showroom events for women including practical advice and tips to do with running safer cars and coping with the likes of road rage. And of course we help Club members when it comes to saving them time (and probably money) by pointing them at tried and tested female friendly garages and/or helping them after the stress of an accident.

2/ If an employer, recognise that you have a duty of care, especially to parents (Mums mainly in my experience) returning to work after sleepless nights to add to the stress of the daily commute. Why not consider offering all employees a motoring benefits package that shows you really do care about their safety? To include female staff, wives and partners of course.

Finally I spotted that Allianz Your Cover is giving away a range of prizes at their Facebook Page so commuters feel appreciated. But you’ll have to be quick as these are only available this month. Alternatively you can follow the insurer via Twitter @YourCoverUK as they may well make similar offers in future.


The impact of the Gender Directive so far…

A new law that was sneaked in on 21 December last under cover of Christmas means that many young women will soon be feeling the pinch when their car insurance renewal notice hits the doormat.

Thanks to the EU and an evident absence of anyone sticking up for women drivers when this was first mooted more than 10 years ago (long before FOXY was conceived…) the Gender Directive is now law in the UK. This prevents insurers from using statistical evidence to calculate premiums, proof that most young women are safer drivers than many young men, for example.

Of course there’s an inherent unfairness here as young men can be safe drivers and young women dangerous ones but the way I see it, if I was setting up an insurance business (and this would apply to any financially switched on business man I’m sure) I’d base my premiums on known risk factors for starters then apply good driving rewards and bad driving penalties on an individual basis thereafter.

Which is what black box telematics are all about of course. They are fitted in your car to assess your driving style and, hopefully, will incentivise young drivers to drive responsibly on the basis of a financial reward. Let’s hope the young men that need them most buy them…

But whether the eventual financial reward will ever reinstate the advantageous premiums that young women have paid in the past remains to be seen.

Are insurers consistent in their approach to gender?

It’s not going to be easy to monitor whether insurers are being consistent here or treating men and women the same because there are so many other risk factors that they are allowed to take into consideration when calculating premiums. These include a driver’s age, occupation, postcode, anti-theft devices, age/value/model of car, engine size, annual mileage, multiple car ownership, named drivers, previous claims, the policy excess, modifications and probably other factors I’ve forgotten today.

But we’ll be keeping our eyes open here…

What’s new after the Gender Directive?

In a nutshell, we have to rely on insurers doing the right thing for women from now on. Good insurers will want to demonstrate added value for money to their female customers, knowing that young drivers in particular may be facing dramatically higher premiums.

There is a clear move towards black box technology to not only reduce the number of road accidents young drivers are involved in but also to keep their premiums down. This could be a good thing and fortunately it’s a very competitive area which will keep prices down. You’ll find out more about this and the key players at the comparethebox website to which should be added a new entrant called ‘Drive Like A Girl‘ ; a name that’s unlikely to attract any male interest I’d have thought!

We are also noticing a lot of short term tactical advertising targeting women drivers. Women are more attracted by loyalty card points than men, freebies and designer handbags for that matter, so we’re not surprised to see these on offer at price comparison websites, Facebook, from supermarket and female-oriented insurance brands. Far be it for me to suggest a handbag competition approach might be seen as patronising by some women but I have heard this word mentioned recently.

The best approach, we believe, is to see the Gender Directive as an opportunity to build a long term relationship with women as a result of doing something that is demonstrably in their long term best interests. An example of a customer service initiative that illustrates this well is that of Ageas Insurance who asked us to develop a FOXY Lady Approved© female friendly standard for their accident repair centres, much as we had done for garages previously. This has since been organised by our FOXY Choice website and approximately 100 Ageas Solution Centres are now members of the new network. Together we are spreading the news that women have a choice of female friendly repairers at accident time and a start has been made here.

This is also a commitment to higher services levels for men because bodyshops and garages that get service levels right for fussy women (like me) are automatically doing a better job for men too.

Finally if you’d like to leave feedback about ANY garage, accident repair centre or recent insurance experience after the Gender Directive we’d love to hear from you HERE.

We need you to tell us so we can share instances of best (and worst) practice with other women drivers.


FOXY Lady Approved accident repair centres are the GOOD NEWS to celebrate

Last night Channel 4’s Dispatches programme broadcast a report about car insurance and what happens when you need it most, at claims time and following an accident.

During it the OFT described the industry as dysfunctional and Malcolm Tagg, the CEO of VBRA (the Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association), said that some insurer practices were immoral which gives you a clue about the tone of the programme.

We were looking at a purported culture that puts insurer profits ahead of doing the right thing in many cases and if some of the examples of cavalier management dismissing safety concerns are in any way typical, I’d be very very depressed indeed.

But they aren’t of course; they’re simply exceptions to do with the very small percentage of bad businesses (insurers and repairers alike) that are allowed to survive in their respective industries.

And we must now leave the Competition Commission to do its job re the all too common, short term and highly unsavoury mutual back scratching referral practices that are never in the long term best interests of the motorist – we who are expected to foot the bill for such folly.

Coincidentally this programme was aired on the same day as we launched our new FOXY Lady Approved© Accident Repair Centre network at the FOXY Choice website. Rest assured there are some fabulous and caring bodyshop and SMART repairer businesses out there who deserve more support on the basis of their investment in quality and processes to improve customer service.

We’re promoting them to women drivers and members of the Club of course via the FOXY Lady Drivers Club website as well. Accredited technicians, Kitemark licensees, manufacturer approval and those that operate to an OFT Approved Code are the standards we see as a cut above the rest.

We also welcome the sight of women in customer facing roles and, whilst quality is no guarantee of a genuinely female friendly business we’ve found, all FOXY Lady Approved© businesses have to sign a promise to ‘never overcharge, patronise or sell women services they don’t need’ before we’ll consider any application to join us.

Yes, I can hear some of you thinking… ‘none of this should be necessary’ but the problem is that the perception it will is there in the female mind. Too many women think the motor industry is out to get them by baffling them with jargon and ripping them off. A perception based on the scattergun promotion of industry complaints schemes we’re not used to seeing elsewhere perhaps but regularly topped up by real life negative (but well-intentioned) programmes like Dispatches…

Instead, I’d like to see more good news about the motor industry making it onto the public radar on occasion. How about some publicity about FOXY Choice giving motorists a female friendly choice so that all motorists, not just female ones, can rely on higher, more ethical and caring standards from tried and tested repairers after an accident that inevitably leaves them out of pocket, inconvenienced, considerably stressed and sometimes with very serious injuries and consequences to cope with afterwards.

Now that would be welcome news to hear for a change.