The difference between male and female car insurance premiums is currently 41%, with men paying on average £315 more than women motorists, according to comparison website Gocompare.com. Teenage males pay almost double the rate for young women.
But the introduction of unisex premiums on December 21 is expected to push up the cost of insurance for many women drivers.
Scott Kelly of Gocompare.com, says: "We expect that the implementation of unisex rates at the end of the year will see premiums equalised at the higher male rate, rather than at the lower rate for females. If that is the case, women drivers will see their premiums rise by just over £300 on average, but for younger age groups the increase could be as much as £2000."
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) expects premiums for women under 25 to rise by 25%. Malcolm Tarling of the ABI says: "It is more difficult to say whether we will see any readjustment in male premiums."
Women are also likely to pay more for life insurance when the European ruling comes into force. Currently, women generally pay less than men for life cover as they live longer. A non-smoking woman aged 35 can expect to pay a monthly premium of £5.70 for £150,000 of cover over 20 years, compared with £7 for a man.
Matt Morris, a life insurance adviser at LifeSearch. says: "Premiums for women are going to rise at the end of the year, possibly by as much as 30% ."
The ABI predicts similar increases for women, but also forecasts a fall of about 10% in men's premiums.
But independent financial adviser John McKendrick, of French Duncan in Glasgow, warns premiums are not the only consideration: "Critical illness cover and income protection will continue to be available for purchase at a click of a mouse at an apparently bargain rate online.
"However, it's worth bearing in mind that the number of variables attributed to these policies means that buying them online without professional advice from an IFA could be a waste of money as policy-holders are unlikely to ever receive a penny from an insurer well-versed in avoiding the need to pay out."
McKendrick adds: "Whereas premiums quoted online are typically reviewable, which means that they can be raised at any point in the future, quality critical-illness cover and income protection products will offer guaranteed premiums, own-occupation cover, and inflation cover, without any further medical evidence."
The EU ruling might prompt an increase in women's retirement income. Women are typically offered lower annuity rates for pensions than men as they live longer, so the annuity has to pay out for longer.
A man with a pension fund of £50,000 could buy an annuity of about £2700 a year – £200 more than a woman with the same fund. Andrew Tully, of annuity specialist MGM Advantage, says: "I would expect male rates to fall by 3% to 4% while women's rates could go up by 1% to 2%."
So, how can women win the battle of the unisex premiums? If your car insurance is up for renewal before December 21, then you can still get a lower premium. Women who do not need to renew until later have a more difficult decision.
Scott says: "There is an argument that, to beat potential increases, women with a renewal coming up early in the New Year should consider trying to lock into a better 12-month deal now.
"But - they should check their current insurer's cancellation fees and the long-term impact of losing this year's no-claims bonus. Also, breakdown cover, motoring legal protection or other cover included within the policy will end and the premium may not be refundable."
Women who have no life insurance might consider taking out a policy sooner rather than later. Matt Lloyd, head of life insurance at Confused.com, says: "Now is the time to make the most of cheaper premiums."
Men are also advised to consider buying an annuity before the rules change. Nigel Green, chief executive of the deVere Group, an independent financial adviser, says: "It would be madness to wait until after December 21 if you're a man who is planning to buy an annuity in the next few years."
VICTORIA Griffiths from Edinburgh has several policies to protect her family and doesn't see why she shouldn't pay less as a lower risk. "It should be based on statistics rather than anything else. They should take all your history into consideration."
Griffiths, who works part-time at a local school, has life and critical illness cover and family income benefit with Bright Grey. She knows in tough times it is tempting to cut back on insurance. "But I am not prepared to take the risk – we would be snookered if anything did happen," she says
She adds: "I also would not be very chuffed if my motor insurance goes up."
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