THE much-hyped European insurance law, which was expected to transform the insurance industry and slash the cost of car insurance for men, is turning into a damp squib, according to insurers and industry insiders.
The law on gender insurance, which bans insurers from charging men and women different prices for the same cover, kicked in last December.
FBD Insurance boss Andrew Langford said the law "hasn't proved to have the huge disruptive effect [on the insurer's motor insurance business] that would have been anticipated", when discussing the firm's results earlier this week.
"We can't see huge evidence that insurers across the market have adopted a huge difference in pricing policy [since the new law was introduced]," said Mr Langford.
He added that the new law largely affected drivers under 30. However, only one out of four drivers are under 30, according to recent industry information.
This suggests that most drivers don't get any benefit from the new law.
"The difference in the price paid for car insurance by those above 30 has never really been that noticeable," said Conor Faughnan, director of consumer affairs with AA Ireland.
Until the law kicked in, male drivers under 30 usually paid through the nose for car insurance when compared with women of the same age. Although there have been some price reductions in car insurance for young men since, young females have been hit with price increases well in excess of any price cuts passed onto men, according to Mr Faughnan.
"The overall cost of car insurance has increased by an average of 2 to 3 per cent over the last three months," added Mr Faughnan. Jonathan Hehir, director of the insurance broker coverinaclick.ie, maintains that the price paid by young men for car insurance has not come down since the new law kicked in, while young woman now pay at least twice as much for their car insurance than they did this time last year.
Mr Hehir also said it has become a struggle for young drivers to get insurance as some insurers had stopped offering car insurance to young women since the law kicked in.
"Insurers are terrified of insuring young males," said Mr Hehir. "Under the new law, insurers know they must quote for a young man if they quote for a woman of the same age. So a lot of insurers – who previously quoted for young women – are now not quoting for young drivers at all. Where you only have two to three insurers offering cover for young drivers, you could be looking at a situation where a young driver ends up paying €3,000 or €4,000 for their insurance."
Another industry insider confirmed the trend. "Even if an insurer doesn't refuse to quote a young driver, it doesn't kill itself trying to be competitive," he said.