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How to beat EU-imposed insurance price rises

The introduction of new European gender-equality legislation as of 21 December 2012 means that millions of Brits are facing higher insurance premiums in the New Year.

The main effects are being felt in car and life insurance, as well as with annuities.

This is the financial products used to turn pension savings into an income in retirement.

Who is affected?

The law change, which came into force on 21 December, means that insurers are no longer allowed to use their customers' gender as a factor when setting premiums.

Traditionally, young men would normally pay more for motor insurance than young women because insurers' statistics showed they were more likely to have accidents and make claims.

But now, if insurers are presented with a male and female driver with the same car, location, milage etcetera, they'll have to offer the same price to both.

This means that the cost of car insurance for many women - young women in particular - have risen, while they have fallen for men.

Life cover losers

With life insurance, women are again set to lose out.

Women have greater average life expectancy so their life premiums were previously lower than men's as they were less likely to die during the course of a life insurance policy.

With annuities, however, women's longer life expectancy has traditionally worked against them in the form of lower rates.

This is because women's annuities generally have to pay out for longer than men’s.

But an end to gender-based rates means that men's annuity payouts are now lower and women's slightly higher than before 21 December.

What can you do about it?

Whether or not these changes are fair, they are here to stay.

But that doesn't mean you have to settle to paying more for cover, or receiving lower annuity rates.

There are a number of strategies you can adopt to get a better deal.

Car insurance

If you're a woman and you are given a high quote for renewing your cover this year, don't assume this is entirely due to the EU law change.

Insurers make money out of their loyal customers by putting their prices up year after year.

When your current policy comes to an end, be sure to shop around for a better deal on your car insurance.

If you're under 25, adding an older driver to your policy can help reduce premiums, as your insurer will see them as less of a risk.

And consider signing up for a telematics or black box car insurance policy the next time round. This involves having a gadget installed in your car to record how you drive, and at what time of day.

Careful drivers who don't go out a lot at night – when accidents are more common – will be rewarded with lower premiums.

Life insurance

Life premiums are based on factors such as your age, health, and how much cover you want.

You can save money by opting for lower amounts of protection at the start, with a view perhaps to increasing cover later.

And remember, the younger you are when you take cover out, the lower your premiums will be.

If you delay, you risk facing higher premiums later if you happen to develop health problems.

Annuities

Shopping around for the best rate is vital when it comes to choosing an annuity.

Don't simply accept the quote offered by the company which runs your pension, as there is no guarantee it will be competitive.

Bear in mind also that if you have any health problems, you may qualify for an enhanced annuity, which pays more.

Be sure to mention this on the application. Unlike other insurance such as life or critical illness, you will not be penalised for being in ill-health.

With annuities, it means you'll ger a higher retirement income as you're not expected to live as long as your healthy counterparts.




Chris Torney

Chris Torney

Chris is personal finance editor at the Daily Express. He's been a journalist for more than 10 years and contributes to a wide range of finance and business titles.Read more from Chris



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