I was named at yesterday’s House of Commons Prime Minister’s QuestionTime in a question asked by Jonathan Evans fomer Tory MEP, now MP for Cardiff North’s as follows:
“The whole House will be aware that younger women drivers face a massive hike in their insurance premiums next year as a direct result of a European Court judgement.In that context, therefore, does my Right Honourable Friend share my disappointment that this judgement has been warmly welcomed by London’s Labour Euro MP Mary Honeyball, who has indicated that she considers it to be ‘admirable’ and ‘the price of equality’.”
David Cameron replied “I have to say that it shows some of the loony left is still alive and well in our country, because frankly insurance premiums ought to reflect risk. My Honourable Friend as ever is displaying common sense, whereas the European Court is not.” (The attached one minute video is of this exchange.)
I became the latest in a long list to receive an insult from David Cameron, with the opportunity to sneer at an European institution no doubt giving him pleasure too. It is little surprise to find him siding with the insurance industry against consumers.
The current system where insurance companies use actuarial tables to assess drivers lumps people together into groups; this is unfair precisely because it assesses groups of people rather than the individual. But risk is an individual matter. Therefore drivers should be regarded as individuals and not as groups of drivers. The European Court’s judgment is about getting insurance companies to do their job properly, not allowing them to use this as an excuse to drive up insurance premiums for women.
As I wrote on 1st March:
‘There is no requirement for insurance premiums to last 12 months. Scooter insurance has led the way here with policies lasting three months which are substantially cheaper for a new driver with a new scooter rather than a second hand one. Shorter timescales would solve the thorny problem of how to assess first time drivers. A sum could be demanded, based initially on the current category assessment, and then amended when the individual’s driving safety (or lack of it) could be worked out for that person based on their driving history. Risk assessment on an individual basis is, I am sure, a viable proposition in this age of computers.’
We all quickly become individually assessed with the “no claims discount” system. It would not be difficult for insurance companies to adopt an individual assessment approach when so much personal data is held about all of us. I think the European Court have made the correct judgment. The insurance companies should spend less time spreading scare stories and more time updating their systems so all applicants for insurance are fairly treated.