Profile: Jeremy Gilley

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Sheila’s Wheels sees European gender ruling as an “opportunity”

Sheila’s Wheels, the car insurance brand “designed with women in mind” has dismissed suggestions that a European ruling on removing gender discrimination for insurance products will affect its positioning.

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The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is expected to rule next week that it is illegal to offer different premiums depending on gender.

There have been suggestions that the ruling could see a drop in premiums for young male drivers while women drivers, generally regarded as more careful on the road, could see a big hike in premiums.

Sheila’s Wheels, owned by eSure, and other brands, such as Diamond, owned by Admiral, have positioned and marketed themselves as specialising in products for women, although men are also allowed to take out policies.

An eSure spokesman says that the company expects the ECJ ruling to be in favour of equality but that Sheila’s Wheels sees this as a “massive opportunity” that will bring more women to the brand.

He points out that because of the huge ratio of women to men holding Sheila’s Wheel’s policies, the cost of claims will be kept low and hence the cost of premiums. In a virtuous circle, more women will be attracted to the brand.

He admitted that the number of male drivers who may take up policies with Sheila’s Wheels is an unknown but it unlikely to offset the number of women with polices.

The company does not plan to run any marketing tailored specifically to the ECJ ruling as brand awareness is high. Sheila’s Wheels is currently running a television campaign. The spokesman says: “What people have not realised is that this ruling affects pricing but not marketing {of a product}.”

Diamond said the company had no comment to make about the ruling until it was law and the brand implications evaluated.

Readers' comments (15)

  • High time this outrageous discrimination ended - hope the law goes through.

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  • Interesting response (Anon 28 Feb 12.42). In all the talk of equality and discrimination one forgets that being 'equal' does not make us all the same. We are all different - with different characteristics, behaviours and aspirations. We present different risks and have different talents. In fact it is these very differences which present product designers and marketers with opportunity. They also make life more fun!!

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  • Everyone knows that underwriters base their risk analysis on the claims made by their members. We also know that people under 25 are statistically less likely to be as careful as the over 45's so pricing is set relative to that risk. If we know that women generally make fewer claims than men, why are we bothered about that being 'discrimination' and not the discrimination towards the under the 25s?

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  • rates should be based on experience, health and distance travelled.

    This means most men will pay more due to the much greater amount of driving done, but at least it will be based on evidence now rather than just sexist generalisations.

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  • Funny how we have had the Equal Pay Act since 1970 yet women are still paid less than men for the same job but when there is one area that benefits women, and is based on fact and risk assessment, then it is illegal and must be dealt with!! I assume the ECJ are all men...

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  • Since I'll get the same lower premium as the women, I may well apply for a policy. They can't refuse just because I am male - good ruling.

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  • I don't see why gender should be any different to age or class of car when it comes to risk based pricing. It is all about assessing the likelihood of an accident.

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  • For years I have found the 'Sheila's Wheels' advertising garish, stereotyped and hugely demeaning to both women and men - not even funny or cutting edge, as it's been going for so long it's just hackneyed. I'm surprised the ASA-type bodies allowed it. My 4WD has gone up £50 for no reason in 2010 - mature driver, lower speeds, better-maintained and statistically low-risk - yet staying with my own (substantial) internet company is MUCH cheaper than any other

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  • If women statistically have less accidents and therfore less claims than men, why shouldnt they be rewarded with cheaper premiums? I find this discriminating against women.

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  • So, Sheilas Wheels..... You see the ruling as a 'massive opporunity' do you? I'm afraid thats the desperate bluster of a company who know the games up.

    Bye Bye Sheilas Wheels.

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