A House of Lords committee has called on the European Commission to re-think a proposed Directive that could outlaw gender rating in motor insurance.

The House of Lords EU committee concluded it would be wrong to penalise women drivers for the sake of removing sex differentiation in rating engines.

Inquiry chairman Lord Williamson of Horton said the proposals would lead to anomalies and inconsistencies. "In time, gender can and should be taken out of most calculations for car insurance premiums.

"But when companies set premiums for newly-qualified drivers with no track record, gender matters."

The call to retain gender as a ratings factor was backed by First Alternative, which recently launched a women-only motor policy.

Head of risk and underwriting Mike Pickard said: "The Directive's key objective is fairness for both sexes, but if the insurance part goes through, it will be grossly unfair to UK women drivers."