MOTOR insurers have been accused of using new rules to rack up profits by imposing increases on women drivers.
Young female drivers have seen their premiums shoot up by up to 44pc – a hike of €470 a year – according to the first survey to measure the impact of new EU regulations banning insurers using gender to price insurance.
Rules banning gender discrimination took effect last December. The first survey to track the impact of the ruling shows that 21-year-old female drivers are now being asked to pay between €200 and €470 more a year for cover.
But there have only been marginal drops in the cost of insurance for young males.
The trends emerged in data compiled from 16 insurers by brokers AonInsure.ie. It had been expected that the new regulations would have meant small increases in premiums for women with large falls in the cost of cover for men.
However, the AonInsure.ie survey shows some young men have actually had increases of up to €168 in premiums.
AonInsure.ie head Declan Cahill said woman were losing out significantly.
"Females have ended up getting the worst of the deal. Plans to bring in equality in insurance costs between men and women have not worked out. In fact, they have backfired," he said.
Although some young male drivers have benefitted from price drops, they have been nothing like the scale of the rises imposed on women.
A female with a provisional licence in Galway is now being quoted €1,556 for comprehensive cover. This is up from €1,084 in November, a rise of 44pc. A male of the same age, with the same licence and car, has seen their cover fall by just €150 a year to €1,800.
Men with a full licence, who are 27, have seen no change in the cost of cover. But women of the same age with a full licence are facing average rises of 17pc.
Consumers Association chief executive Dermott Jewell accused insurers of using the EU gender directive as an excuse to bump up their profits.
He advised any driver facing big hikes to challenge their insurer to lower the quote.
Mr Cahill said there was strong competition in the insurance market but older drivers would also be hit with premium rises once insurers get used to the new gender rules. The survey shows some middle-aged drivers have seen decreases in premiums between November and now.
"Indications in the industry are that these low premiums are not sustainable in the longer term," he said.
This was due mainly to more frequent accidents and higher costs of claims.
Head of general insurance at the Irish Insurance Federation Michael Horan denied that insurers were exploiting the gender directive to boost profits.
He said the survey had thrown up anomalies in insurance pricing for young women but across the market premiums had not gone up.