Insurance companies look at many factors to determine your car insurance rates. Your location, driving record and age all affect how much you pay.
You might be surprised to find out that your gender can also affect your rates. We'll explain the differences in costs, risk factors and more.
How car insurance rates differ for men and women
Historically, men have paid more for car insurance than women because insurance companies view them as a higher risk to cover. Data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) provides insight into this position. (More on this shortly.) However, some experts argue that using gender-based pricing could be discriminatory.
These states have banned the use of gender to set car insurance premiums:
Other states are pushing for car insurance companies to be more inclusive of transgender and nonbinary drivers by including a third option to allow drivers to self-identify on insurance applications.
Cost of car insurance by age and gender
While auto insurance can generally cost more for men, a driver’s age typically plays a larger role than gender. According to a recent study by insurance comparison site The Zebra, the difference in insurance costs for older male and female drivers is negligible, with average annual rates for a full coverage policy of $1,760 and $1,734, respectively.
But the same study found that male drivers under age 25 pay significantly more for auto insurance than female drivers under 25. Among 16-year-olds, for example, annual premiums for female drivers averaged $5,969 while male drivers’ premiums averaged $6,701. For 19-year-olds, the disparity was less but still significant – $3,486 for female drivers vs. $3,963 for male drivers.
Another study by PolicyGenius shows similar cost differences for younger drivers, but those cost gaps close significantly as drivers age. By the time drivers hit age 30, for example, average annual premiums for men are $1,717 and $1,694 for women. Older drivers of both genders pay similar annual insurance premiums, with costs for men skewing slightly higher.
Why do insurance providers charge men more?
While the practice of setting rates based on gender raises questions of discrimination, data from the IIHS supports insurers’ positions that males are a higher risk on the road. Fatal accident rates among men are much higher than among women.
According to a recent IIHS report, a significantly higher number of men die in car accidents each year, accounting for 72% of 2021 crash deaths. Males were also more likely to be involved in fatal crashes where speeding and alcohol use were contributing factors.
Besides serious car accidents, overall driving habits also play a role in insurance costs. Speeding tickets and other moving violations typically result in higher premiums. And filing a claim after a minor accident could increase your costs.
No matter your gender, safe driving practices can help get you affordable rates on car insurance. Some companies also offer special discounts for using telematics devices in your car. These devices monitor how and when you drive, your rate of acceleration and braking, with the goal of promoting safer driving habits.
Other factors influencing car insurance rates
In addition to gender, here are other factors insurers typically consider.
1. Driving record and history
Your driving record will significantly impact your insurance rates. Those with clean records will receive lower average rates than those with a history of speeding tickets, at-fault accidents, reckless driving, or driving under the influence/while intoxicated (DUI/DWI) convictions.
2. Age and experience
Age and driving experience are two other major factors. For instance, auto insurers often consider teenage drivers and those under 25 to be a high risk due to their inexperience on the road, so these individuals pay higher monthly premiums. Even if you obtain a license at an older age, your insurance company will consider your limited driving experience when calculating your rates. So it’s possible your car insurance costs will be higher.
Generally, car insurance is more expensive in densely populated areas with high crime rates. Both present risks to insurance companies. So you might pay more for a car insurance policy if you live in a large city than you would in a smaller rural area.
4. Vehicle make and model
Your vehicle’s make and model will also impact your insurance rates. For instance, if you drive a vehicle with high safety ratings, like a Honda Accord, it will be less expensive to insure than a fancy sports car. In general, older cars are less expensive to insure than newer ones.
5. Credit score
Some car insurance companies use a credit-based insurance score as a rating factor. The score is a numerical value calculated by analyzing an applicant’s credit history that is used in the underwriting process to set rates. Drivers with poor credit history may be quoted higher rates because their financial history makes them seem more risky to insure. Those with excellent credit may receive lower rates.
Credit-based insurance scoring is used to help determine insurance rates in most U.S. states, excluding California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts. Other states have rules in place prohibiting companies from denying coverage due to their credit-based insurance scores.
6. Gender and marital status
Your marital status will affect your car insurance rates, whether you’re male or female. Married drivers typically pay less to insure their vehicles than single drivers, as insurance companies often consider married drivers to be more financially secure than single drivers. Some studies have also shown that married drivers are less likely to be seriously injured in car accidents than single drivers.
Bottom line: Are men really more expensive to insure?
In many states, gender factors into your car insurance rates, and you may pay more for auto coverage if you’re a male driver – especially a young male driver – depending on where you live. That said, other factors also play a more significant role in your insurance costs, such as your age and driving record.
For instance, teenage males are widely considered to be high-risk drivers and are thus likely to pay a lot more for car insurance than teenage females. And drivers with at-fault accidents or other incidents behind the wheel are also likely to pay higher car insurance rates, regardless of gender.
To obtain cheaper car insurance coverage, focus on factors within your control, such as your driving habits. Safe drivers with clean records typically benefit from low insurance rates, so following posted speed limits and obeying the rules of the road can go a long way toward keeping car insurance affordable.
Many insurers also offer discounts for safe driving, maintaining good grades, bundling your car insurance with another insurance product, and more. As you compare coverages, research which discounts each car insurance company provides, and if those discounts might apply to you.