At least one major car insurer is breaking race laws, according to legal advice received by Which?. Admiral Group, which includes Bell, Diamond and Elephant.co.uk, charges customers who were born outside the UK more than those who have lived in the UK since birth.
Which? ran two scenarios, with the only difference being whether the prospective car insurance customer was born in the UK or abroad. Depending on how applicants answered the question ‘have you lived in the UK since birth?’, quotes differed by 18% on average.
A total of 15 other car insurers were contacted to establish how widespread the practice of basing quotes on an applicant’s origin was. We found that none asked this type of question. However, Which? believes that Admiral Group is not alone in basing quotes on whether potential customers were born in the UK or have not lived in the UK since birth.
According to the legal expert Which? consulted, basing quotations on a person’s origin is ‘unlawfully discriminatory and in breach of the Race Relations Act 1976’. The expert told us that insurers can treat customers differently if it is ‘a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’, but did not believe Admiral’s actions were proportionate.
Admiral Group told Which?: ‘Admiral respects every customer, regardless of race, colour or religion. We do not rate on race, colour or religion but we do rate on the age someone first comes to the UK. Our advice is that this is consistent with the Race Relations Act.’
Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said:
‘It is outrageous to charge someone more for insurance just because they haven’t lived in the UK for their entire lives. We believe that this kind of discrimination has been outlawed for decades.
‘We’re calling on the Admiral Group to stop this shameful practice immediately.’
Consumers who believe that their car insurance premium was raised because they have not lived in the UK since birth should contact their insurer for an explanation. Which? is keen to find out if any other providers ask questions relating to an applicant’s origin. Anyone with examples can email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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