IF YOU'RE IN the market for car insurance you might want to sign up for a new email address before looking for a quote.
That's because some insurers use your email provider as a proxy for your likelihood of making a claim. A Hotmail address apparently marks you down as a boy or girl racer, in comparison with Gmail users who, insurers seem to believe, live life in the slow lane.
The findings come from an investigation by The Sun. Reporters applied for insurance quotes on price comparison sites using profiles that were identical apart from the email address. One of the UK's largest motor insures, Admiral, was singled out for discriminating in terms of price.
"We found that on comparison website GoCompare, Admiral charged a Hotmail driver £467.04 and a Gmail one £435.68 — £31.36 less," the reporters said.
Admiral admitted that it does use email domains as one variable in its risk estimation algorithm saying: "Certain domain names are associated with more accidents than others."
Perhaps it's the 'hot' in Hotmail that makes its users such rubber burning pedal-to-the-metal maniacs. But if that's true, what of devil-may-care thrice-hacked Yahoo Mail users, or customers of domains such as death-star.com, racedriver.com, crazysexycool.com or reallyfast.biz? Perhaps they need to sign up for a burner account from safe-mail.net for use on GoCompare - particularly if they are called Mohammed.
That's because having the name Mohammed is another factor likely to increase your insurance quote.
Applying to GoCompare as "John Smith" wanting fully comprehensive insurance for a 2007 Ford Focus in Leicester resulted in a quote for £1,333. However, for "Mohammed Ali" it was £2,252, £919 more.
"We got 60 quotes via GoCompare, plus others using rival comparison sites," The Sun said.
"The sites do not calculate figures themselves but simply show results from insurers. Admiral and its sister companies Diamond, Bell and Elephant always quoted more if the driver was called Mohammed."
These insurers were not alone in their discrimination, however. M&S Insurance also bumped up the price based on the name alone.
Admiral boss David Stevens blamed its anti-fraud software for the differences in quotes, while M&S promised to look into the matter. μ
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