A widely believed long standing notion has always been that women are more careful drivers than men. If latest insurance trends are anything to go by then this is turning out to be true. Recently in one week alone, two insurance companies launched motor insurance covers targeting lady drivers, with more benefits than a normal comprehensive at cheaper rates.
Last year CIC Insurance became the first underwriter to introduce a product for this niche market, at five per cent of the value of the car with an array of benefits attached to it.
"Incidents of accidents involving lady drivers are fewer and when they do happen they are less severe," said CIC Insurance assistant GM for general business Milka Kinyua.
The cover is offered at five per cent of the value of the sum insured and entails benefits such as courtesy car after an accident, medical checkups and services like pap smear tests for clients in partnership with Karen Hospital, personal accident cover for the insured and her driver, road and air rescue after an accident, partnership with AA, handbag contents insurance among others.
CIC Lady Auto also partners with four garages in Nairobi and Kisumu to service clients for minor mechanical problems, at subsidised rates. To get this cover, the insured must have registered the car in her name and should be accident-free for at least three years.
"Ladies are family oriented and are unlikely to cause accidents at those crazy hours during the night that people crash cars to a write-off point," added Kinyua. Wairimu Githuka, a 34 year old business woman says the move by insurers to consider a customised product for female drivers is timely.
"Good make up costs upwards of Sh1,500. Experts also say that once you have had an accident whether the baby car seat is damaged or not it has to be replaced and car seats are not cheap. A good car seat is in excess of Sh10,000," says Wairimu.
These, together with the fact that women hardly cause accidents, is the reason why Wairimu believes it is a high time female drivers get rewarded by insurance companies through niche products at an affordable rate.
All the lady motor insurance products have covers for handbag contents up to a certain limit as well as items in the car. Jubilee and CIC both said the covers are based on historical claims statistics that who less severe and fewer claims by cars insured and driven by ladies than males.
CIC's Kinyua on her part adds that recent frenzy by underwriters to launch these niche products for female drivers has been based on the fact that women nowadays register cars under their own names unlike previously when it was not easy to track who largely uses the car.
"There are so many women that used to buy cars and register them through their husbands or give the cars to their husbands. As women become more empowered they are taking charge and now we can collect more accurate claims information," said Kinyua.
In a statement issued by Jubilee Insurance last month during the launch of the Lady Auto cover, the underwriter said: "The debate on whether ladies are better drivers than men is still on, however; motor insurance claims by lady drivers are fewer and less expensive compared to claims by male drivers. Driving Under the Influence and other impaired driving convictions strongly affect pricing for motor insurance. For example,in the USA, the FBI reported that 716,398 men were arrested for DUIs compared to 221,778 women in 2010."
A police officer attached to Gigiri station told the Star that generally male drivers are involved in more accidents especially the most severe ones. However, when it rains, more of the recorded car accidents are attributed to female drivers.
Wairimu, who has been accident free for over three years says she currently enjoys a low rate of four per cent agrees. "When i caused an accident few years ago, it was raining i did not see the roundabout and drove straight into it," she said.
According to an analysis on online motoring information site Afro Autos, men are more prone to making traffic violations, speeding, not buckling up and drinking. Such behaviour puts them at higher crash risks than women, the online site argues.
Afro Autos also explains that male ego contributes to the higher accident rates among this gender because for most men on the road, driving is a contest. For regular drivers, men will try to outdo a fellow motorist every day.
In a study last year, American-based insurance group, 4autoinsurancequote, found that 80 per cent of all fatal and serious car crashes are caused by male drivers. According to the study, women are 27 per cent less likely than men to cause car accidents.
The study concluded that men take too many risks while driving compared to women, which could be because of high testosterone, higher propensity to take risks, or higher levels of aggression.
More on this: Women are bad drivers. Fact of fiction?
Jubilee Insurance's head of business development Abel Musunza said the decision to launch the motor insurance cover specifically for women was based on statistics on market loss rations for these drivers.
For the Jubilee product, a driver who has been accident-free for five years gets the lowest rate of 3.75 per cent (similar to the one given under IRA's 'no claims discount' rule) and with the same amount enjoy extra benefits such as discounts at select stores that sell items for ladies, child's school fee cover for between Sh250,000 and Sh1 million, free medical checkups at Aga Khan hospital and home insurance with a payout of between Sh100,000 and Sh1 million.
Heritage Insurance, which launched its product a day after Jubilee, said the niche cover also addresses unique risks that women face as drivers.
“LadiesFirst is an innovative cover that caters to women motorists needs over and above the standard motor policy offered by many, it’s more like a girl’s best friend,” remarked Heritage managing director Godfrey Kioi.
Aside from the similar benefits as its competitors, Heritage's LadiesFirst caters for carjacking and accident incidents involving sexual assault. The policy also covers sexual assault which includes counseling and testing for the victim and accidental medical expenses if injured in a covered motor accident for a total of Sh150,000 per year.
Numbers, at least those collected by insurance companies in this case, do not lie. Ladies are the better drivers, hence the nascent trend is likely to continue with more underwriters keenly observing the market reception of this niche.