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How single people are penalised financially

Emma Lunn
by Lovemoney Staff Emma Lunn on 26 January 2013  |  Comments 9 comments

From insurance to property, holidays to household bills, singles are constantly charged a premium.

How single people are penalised financially

New research suggests single women pay a massive £435 more for their car insurance than married women. Being single, it seems, is a risky business. But as well as high risk, it can be expensive too.

The research* found married women paid an average of £406 for their car insurance in the last quarter of 2012, compared with £841 paid by single females.

Single women have long paid more for their car insurance than their married counterparts. Apparently the footloose and fancy free are deemed less “stable” by insurers than those who are coupled up.

It’s bonkers when you think about it. After all it’s no longer legal to base insurance premiums on gender, yet pricing depending on someone’s marital status is still allowed? Secondly, it suggests that single people could become safer drivers overnight just by getting hitched.

But it’s not just insurers that give single people a raw deal.

Holidays

Most package holidays advertise a price based on two people sharing a room and you’ll be charged a single supplement if you travel alone.

Hotels argue that the cost of cleaning a room and other services is the same regardless of how many people stay in it.

If you choose to travel alone you’re pretty much ruled out of the traditional “week in Spain” type package holiday. But the good news is there are plenty of other, much more exciting, options.

Most adventure travel companies encourage solo travellers and pair them up with someone of the same gender to share accommodation with. So if travelling round Mexico or climbing mountains in Morocco is your bag, you’ll find some like-minded people to do it with. Or if you fancy a resort-based holiday, Mark Warner caters well for single people with single or shared rooms and plenty of social activities.

Best of all, if you’re single there’s no one to persuade you to spend your hard-earned cash and limited annual leave entitlement on a dull golf holiday: money permitting, the world is your oyster.

Property

The trials of being a first-time buyer these days are well documented, but getting that vital first step on the ladder can be even more difficult if you are doing it alone.

If you don’t have a partner with whom you can share the cost of a deposit and mortgage, buying a property can seem nothing but a distant dream. 

One option is to get a joint mortgage with a friend but you’ll need to decide what you’ll do further down the track if one of you wants to live with a partner.

If you do manage to buy alone, then the advantages are obvious: total independence. Unlike couples who might find property ownership makes a messy break-up ten-times harder, you won’t have to move house just because you don’t like your boyfriend anymore.

And if you’re desperate, or just fancy the company, you can take advantage of the Government’s Rent-a-Room scheme if you have a spare bedroom.

Household bills

Council tax bills are supposedly calculated based on two adults living at an address. However, the single person’s discount for living alone is only 25%.

To qualify for this discount you need to sign a form available from your local council to say that you live alone.

There’s no discount at all on other bills such as gas, electricity, water, phone and broadband and these bills can be expensive for the lone dweller.

After all you use the same amount of gas to heat the house for one as you do for two. Apart from switching to the best energy deal there’s not a great deal you can do about this.

As far as your water supply goes, you might not have a choice of supplier, but it can be a good idea to get a water meter installed.  Generally this is a good idea if your property has more bedrooms than inhabitants.

Politicians

As if being single wasn’t expensive enough, singletons are rarely mentioned by politicians or newspapers.

We’re always hearing about “hard-working families” and “families hit by the recession” as if single people don’t go to work or are unaffected by economic conditions.

And while there are tax breaks for families, there’s no such help for people who pay the mortgage and bills on their own rather than splitting the very same costs with someone else.

While a change in policies might be asking too much, just an acknowledgement that not everyone lives in a family unit might be a start.

* from Confused.com/Towers Watson

More on your money:

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Comments (9)

  • Tanni
    Love rating 92
    Tanni said

    Equality eh? Only a matter of time when those that feel ripped off will be able to issue writs and make a claim for unequal treatment from the various service providers...

    Report on 26 January 2013  |  Love thisLove  1 love
  • tuttogallo
    Love rating 99
    tuttogallo said

    Not quite true. Single people can reduce some household bills:

    - Council Tax 25% discount (already mentioned above)

    - turn he heating down to 18 degrees and wear more clothes (single people do not have to put up with others wishing to wear summer clothes in winter. You can guess which sex I might be referring to)

    - total control over which appliances are turned on or not

    - water consumption is greatly reduced (but it costs an astonishing £100 per year even without using a single drop of water)

    One bill which seems impossible to reduce is for internet access

    Report on 26 January 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Overtone
    Love rating 38
    Overtone said

    As the title of the article is about "single people" why does it focus on single women when discussing car insurance?

    As for the household bills, if you're single you don't need as large a home as two people, so you can buy or rent a smaller one in a lower council tax band and where the energy and other costs are less. A three-bed house for only one person is going to cost that person more than if there were two of them sharing the cost. You don't have to be Einstein to see that. Or that if you use fuel, water and so on you should pay for what you use and not imagine you might get a discount for being single subsidised by everyone else.

    Even more radical - stop bleating about how this or that group of people find some aspect of life is different from the way it is for another group.

    Report on 26 January 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • electricblue
    Love rating 769
    electricblue said

    Pointless article. Large people have to pay more for clothes, those with big feet struggle to find shoes - so what?

    Report on 26 January 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Salfordguy
    Love rating 22
    Salfordguy said

    I have found the single supplement with the big companies you might as well take a friend on holiday for free, the difference is about £50. However smaller tour operators like Olympic really don't add that much, especially if its a late deal they need to sell.

    Report on 28 January 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • ajrr1
    Love rating 19
    ajrr1 said

    tuttogallo said:

    "One bill which seems impossible to reduce is for internet access"

    This isn't strictly true. Depending on what you use your internet access for, you could reduce the cost. Most providers have tiered pricing based on usage limits.

    However, if you download a lot, including streaming media such as iPlayer, you are likely to need an unlimited data plan anyway.

    However, internet pricing to me seems one of the better models in this country. The tiered pricing does mean you 'can' pay based on total usage, regardless of how many people contribute to that usage. What is less fair is the disparity in download speeds (about which consumers can do little or nothing).

    As far as I know, our broadband prices are actually rather low compared to most countries as well.

    Report on 28 January 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • CuNNaXXa
    Love rating 410
    CuNNaXXa said

    So, take two women. They are twin sisters. Both are in their late thirties. They both drive identical cars, and live in the same postcode. They are identical in every way except, one is married while the other is single.

    So, how can an insurer say that the single female is more of a risk than the married female?

    Of course, insurers don't need to justify why they charge what they charge. We legally have to have a minimum of third party insurance for a vehicle kept on the public road, so they have a captive audience.

    Of course, I want to know why my premiums change when I change to a different vehicle. For example, to insure a Ford Mondeo is £100 cheaper than insuring a Jeep Grand Cherokee for me, yet I drive the more expensive vehicle no differently from the cheaper alternative.

    Now I know they will say that the Jeep is more expensive to repair should I have an accident, but if I have nine years or more no claims discount, meaning I have been driving safely for nine years or more, it should cost no more to insure one car to another, because I should be considered an extremely safe driver.

    After all, it will cost no more to repair a Jeep than it will to repair a Mondeo after having NO accident (it will cost nothing to repair the Jeep after no accident, which ironically is the same for repairing a Mondeo after NOT having an accident).

    Over the years, I have spent thousands on insurance, and have never made a claim. Now they will also state that we have to pay for bad drivers. Why? The insurers take the risks, not us. It is they who are gambling that we won't have an accident. If they play their hand wrong, why should we cover their backsides?

    It would be like going to the bookies and putting a bet on a nag winning the Grand National, then expecting the bookie to reimburse your stake money should you lose.

    Insurance companies need to tighten up. They should not be paying out on bogus claims, then increasing our premiums to cover these losses. If someone proves to be a bad driver, just refuse them insurance. No insurance means no driving, and if they do, they are breaking the law, and can face a custodial sentence or a large fine.

    In fact, insurance companies should be trying to recover losses from uninsured drivers, and the law should assist in recovering losses suffered through failing to have the minimum insurance required by law. Also, sentencing should be tougher for those who actively abuse the laws and who put others at risk. Send them to prison where they belong, and stop penalising the innocent motorists who pay their way fairly and squarely.

    Report on 01 February 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • r
    Love rating 98
    r said

    Several good observations from @CuNNaXXa .

    I guess the references to car insurance have been taken from a shared policy for married women, so the insurers will calculate that the woman is only driving for part of the time. I know we don't like the insurers and I know they will always take the extra penny when they can but policy prices (and, therefore, risks) are based on the laws of probability which is derived from the claim experience of each insurer.

    This has recently been distorted by the EU ruling that gender cannot be taken into account. The fact remains, women live longer than men, on average, and their annuity is therefore more expensive. Statistically, women have less accidents (when measured in terms of cost/payout) and, therefore, their premiums are generally cheaper than those for equivalent men.

    The references to holiday costs are based on the cost of providing a room, bedding etc. The cost to the hotel is pretty well the same for a single or a couple - the main difference is the cost of one or two breakfasts - so I wouldn't expect to see much difference.

    Household utilities - we pretty well pay for what we use; the only exception is the ignominious standing charge.

    Council tax - aaah! - that's another matter. Whilst this tax is property-based, a 25% discount is a bonus to a single person household. Equally, there is no additional cost for a family of six or more. I would be happy to pay for the services that I use but this is not acceptable to the "large families" which successive governments continue to encourage (in tax terms).

    r.

    Report on 01 February 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • sodit
    Love rating 135
    sodit said

    CuNNaXXa, it's because insurance is a pooled product.

    I bought into a Gilt fund in 1988, so my money should grow at around 11% pa on the original investment indefinitely, right? But would you believe it? The swine at the pension company kept on taking deposits into that fund and subsequently bought gilts only yielding 10%, 9%, 8%, all the way down to the present pathetic yields... and in doing so rogered my yield.

    It's just not fair. (not these days when computerisation should be able to link specific securities to specific investors).

    Report on 02 February 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

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