• Oct 3rd 2011 at 2:00PM
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Male drivers tend to pay more for insurance (Nate Rober... Male drivers tend to pay more for insurance (Nate Robert, Flickr).
Listen up men, your Y chromosome makes driving more expensive. And even though data shows you may not be a worse driver than those with double-X chromosomes, it's unlikely insurance companies are going to cut you any breaks.

But they might start increasing rates for women. So we'll all share the pain.

Insurance companies have long worked under the belief that, because men are more risky on the road, they should pay higher rates.

But recent studies have shown that men get into more accidents only because they drive more, about 60% of all miles driven. When you average out accident rates with how many miles each gender drivers, men and women are actually pretty even.

What's more, as one University of Michigan study showed, women are more likely to crash into other women. Those kinds of accidents are more common than expected, given women drive fewer miles than men.

Loretta Worters, vice president of communications at the Insurance Information Institute, said times are changing, and insurance companies may have to rethink the way they charge customers.

"Years ago, women were not on the road as often," she said. "They would be in the passenger seat or at home as the men drove to work, and insurance policy rates are all correlated to risk."

The insurance rate disparity is, in some ways, a vestige of a time gone-by: in 1963, 40 million motorists in the U.S. were women, accounting for 43% of drivers. Today, more than 88 million women are licensed drivers, almost half of all motorists in the U.S.

Worters argues that "men are more daring, but women are changing and starting to develop similar habits, starting to become a little more aggressive. As a society, we're now always on the go."

Still, Worters said she does not believe that the premium for male insurance is antiquated.

Premiums for young women have already risen. Thirty years ago, young women drivers paid 46% above the base rate for adult drivers while young men paid 187% above the base rate. Today, young women pay 120% above the base rate and men pay 185%.

Even though there is still disparity in those figures, there may be good reason for that. While women get into accidents more frequently, men's accidents are more severe and cost more to insure.

Men's crashes tend to be more fatal. According to a study by the John Hopkins School of Public Health, women were involved in more 5.7 crashes per million miles driven, while male drivers had 5.1 crashes over the same distance. But even though they get into fewer crashes, the Johns Hopkins study said men are three times more likely to die in a car crash.

But women might be racing to catch up: Drunk driving is up for women, according to the FBI, which could cause a surge in insurance rates. And female teen accidents are rising, partly because of technological distractions like texting.

Bottom-line: Insurance companies are quick to increase rates on any group of people the companies believe are costing them money, so if women drivers start behaving more like men, their rates will start going up. But one thing's for sure: Don't expect anyone to pay less.

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