Soon it’ll be time to renew my car insurance. When I investigated, I was disappointed to discover that I don’t qualify for cover from Whitey’s Wheels, the new company that only insures Anglo-Saxon drivers. For some time now, actuaries have recognized that white people make fewer and smaller claims on their car insurance than black and coloured people. Whites tend not to drive hot hatches or tuned-up Beemers or have expensive stereos fitted to their vehicles; they generally drive more cautiously (lower testosterone, you see); and they are less likely to live in areas where theft and vandalism is rife. Also, at night, the police find it easier to recognize white faces behind the wheel. Because of these statistics most insurance companies offer a discount to drivers willing to describe themselves as “white” on their application forms.
Whitey’s Wheels is the first insurance company to specialise in providing low-cost cover for non-blacks. They have an excellent advertising campaign too, in which Lenny Henry attempts to wangle his way to a lower premium by imitating the ways of white people, but is caught out at the last minute by, for example, lapsing into syncopated swaying at a rehearsal for an amateur production of Handel’s Messiah.
Ah well, I suppose I’ll have to continue my direct debit payments to Clive Lloyd’s of London.
Israel has something similar to Sheilas – “Lady AIG” (hope that link works).
It sounds a bit sexist to me . The ad is really outrageous, they have Dana International (our wonderful, Eurovision-winning, trans-sexual formerly known as Yaron Cohen) saying “Suddenly everyone wants to be a woman!”
On the other hand – all insurance premiums are based on actuarial risk (with other factors added I guess) so even the idea you are alluding to isn’t so unlikely (if such a thing exists) even though it is offensive. The insurance companies exist to make a profit too.
Wasn’t discrimination in insurance rates on the basis of sex recently outlawed by an EU directive?
Tim: I think it was proposed, but is still going through the legislative process. It obviously took some beating from the insurance industry when it was first floated…
When I was working for an insurer last year they were pretty sure they’d be able to emasculate any EU legislation.
In any case they already effectively practice racial profiling by basing premiums on postcodes.
> It obviously took some beating from the insurance industry when it was first floated.
Oh, they may have made some noises for form’s sake, but they don’t really care. The problem with the EU legislation is that it’s based on the popular and stupid belief that banning this sort of discrimination will lead to lower premiums for men. In fact, it’ll give the industry a nice convenient excuse to hike all their prices up. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some of the people behind it had big stakes in insurance companies.
> they already effectively practice racial profiling by basing premiums on postcodes.
No they don’t. Britain doesn’t have colour-based ghettos; it has class-based ghettos. Bet you can’t name a postcode region that contains no whites.
It’s nonsense to claim that all neighbourhoods have equal crime levels, which is what decides premuims by postcode. Mayfair has less car crime than Lewisham, where I live. When I used to work in insurance there were small postcode areas where the premiums would decrease quite dramatically. They were the parts of the area with the police station in.
Agree about the women thing though, don’t forget about Diamond insurance as well, they’re the same. And they can ban ladies nights at nightclubs while they’re at it.
I’m a lady!
Sorry I was trying to be at least semi-ironic.
From the insurers POV you can pretty much get all the benefits of racial discrimination by using postcodes.
Of course this means you also discriminate against a whole buinch of poor whites as well – but that’s more of feature than a bug for them.
The only real problem is when you have streets of million-pound Georgian town houses sharing the same postcode sector as poor housing estates – as they do in many areas of Central London including Lambeth where I used to live – as it is not cost-effective to go down to the full postcode for marketing and pricing purposes (there are just too many postcodes and the data is lacking for key variables like crime rates etc).
> there are just too many postcodes and the data is lacking for key variables like crime rates etc
That doesn’t make sense. Too many postcodes? For a 1970s computer system, maybe, but I could put them all on my phone a hundred times over and still have loads of space left over for MP3s. These days, the admin involved in upkeep of that much data is trivial.
And how can the data be lacking? The insurance companies don’t have to rely on official statistics; they can use their own data. Which, obviously, they aren’t lacking. They could base their premiums on, say, the last ten years of their own experience. If they wanted.
It may well not be cost-effective to price based on full postcodes, but neither the number of postcodes or the amount of available data is the reason.
Thanx alot Mr Walliams… I now have this image in my mind.
You forgot to mention that non-whites also use their cars for illegal activities, namely pimping and drive-bys.
Last time I did any work with them there were approaching 1.7 million full postcodes (which is the level I was talking about) in the UK.
If you can get that amount of data (what 15 million characters for a simple list of the codes alone) on your phone I’d be very impressed.
Re the argument that insurers can price using their own data this is only valid if you have a statistically significant population of policyholders holding a particular product in the area.
When the average population of a full postcode is under 30 adults this is plainly ridiculous.
Even at postcode district level (i.e the first three or four digits of most postcodes – e.g. SW6 or LS2) where average adult pops are nearer 15,000, you’ve got to be a pretty big insurer to have a statistically significant sample of policyholders in a typical district.
Anyway I fear we’re straying too close to actuarial territory for comfort.
Data mining technology today is designed to deal with trillions of records, so the idea that we couldn’t handle 1.7m is strange. You certainly wouldn’t be using Excel! Look to someone like SAS.
Some would argue its unfair to have different rates or excesses based on the colour of someones skin.
I have to say it could be argued as being discriminative.
I NEED SEX RIGHT NOW
Hold on, Nigella, darling. I’ll be home soon.
i love her very much