ONE OF Britain’s biggest car insurers has admitted increasing premiums for drivers who apply using a Hotmail account.
Motorists seeking cover from Admiral could be charged £31 extra if they use certain email addresses. The insurer said some domain names were “associated with more accidents” than others, raising applicants’ risk profile.
Figures from the Association of British Insurers to be published today show that the cost of car insurance has increased by more than a quarter over the past three years.
Admiral said that hundreds of factors were used by underwriters in setting car insurance, with riskier motorists paying more. Issues included the age of a driver and their postcode.
Drivers living in some parts of London, the most expensive city, can pay almost four times more than those in parts of Cornwall, where car crime is low. One recent study found that men were being charged an average of £114 more for car insurance than women, despite the introduction of EU regulations five years ago banning the use of gender when setting premiums.
It has now emerged that Admiral is also using email domain names among the risk profiles used to compile quotes. It is understood that some domain names are associated with higher levels of early cancellation of policies or even fraudulent claims.
The Sun reported that it had asked Admiral about policies using identical details but different email accounts. Using the price comparison website Gocompare, the insurer quoted a driver using a Hotmail account £467.04. The same motorist applying for the same policy using a Gmail account was handed a quote of £435.68, £31.36 less.
Using the Moneysupermarket website, the motorist was quoted £507.21 using Hotmail, which was £6.57 more than applying with a Gmail account.
The picture was mirrored on Confused.com, where Admiral quoted a Hotmail user £380.80 but the same person £5.60 less via a Gmail account.
Admiral said that certain email domains, which appear after the @ on addresses, affected how risky motorists were perceived to be. “Certain domain names are associated with more accidents than others,” it said. A spokesman added: “We use a variety of pieces of information to accurately produce a competitive price for our customers.”
A study by the Association of British Insurers has found that the average amount drivers paid for comprehensive motor insurance reached £493 at the end of last year.
It was up by 9 per cent in 12 months and represented a 29 per cent increase in three years. The figures are based on the amount of money that drivers actually pay as opposed to the size of quotes collected through price comparison websites.
The ABI blamed the rising cost of repairing new high-tech cars combined with changes to the way the government calculates personal injury claims. It called on the government to clamp down on rogue whiplash claims and rule out any further increase in insurance premium tax, which has already doubled from 6 to 12 per cent in recent years.
Rob Cummings, the association’s head of motor and liability, said the rising cost of motor insurance showed no sign of abating.
He added: “The government must urgently bring forward relief for motorists by introducing its reforms to create a fairer compensation system, and tackling low-value whiplash-style claims without delay, as well as freezing insurance premium tax. It is time cash-strapped motorists got a break.”
This article first appeared in The Times