Could lower motor premiums for men result in greater numbers of powerful cars on the road?

New research into the effects of the Gender Directive, which comes into effect on 21 December, suggests that one potential change may be a shift towards higher-powered vehicles.

As rates level out between men and women, younger drivers, who already face expensive cover, will suffer most.

However, research by Towers Watson argues that although young women will bear the most acute financial burden of being brought into line with their male counterparts, young men may also suffer indirectly.

The motor insurance industry report says that even under the most favourable conditions, addressing the current gender disparity will generally result in some men finding the costs of cover decrease significantly, while many women will see considerable premium rises.

This could affect drivers’ choice of vehicle. Currently, many young drivers chose to drive less risky vehicles, which are cheaper to insure. Falling premiums for young men and consequent increases in disposable income could precipitate a move towards more highly powered vehicles on the road.

The report says: “The Gender Ruling, while well intended, may inadvertently help the least experienced drivers make riskier choices and driving more dangerous for everyone.”

The report follows claims from AA insurance director Simon Douglas that young men are more than twice as likely to have a serious car crash than young women, and are 10 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a car crash than those aged 35 or over.

The insurance industry is being forced to introduce measures that fail to always directly reward safer driving practices, and could even bring about greater levels of dysfunction when implemented.