I'm a woman. Is it still a man's world?

I'm a woman and a motorist. Before buying car insurance I always shop around online, usually on www.womenscheapcarinsurance.org.uk/index.html, this way I know which two or three companies to approach before making a final decision. As part of this I have to disclose my gender, which is female. In some ways I suppose that this may help to minimise any negative bias, as I am only approaching companies that cost the least. I enjoy using price comparison websites as they narrow down the market to a few providers, who are willing to provide everything I ask for. It really helps to focus the purchasing decision.

Generally speaking I find that the sales people for insurance companies tend to be well-mannered to all customers, irrespective of gender. When speaking to customer service agents I feel slightly different based on their gender. I do feel more comfortable speaking to females, however I'm not sure that I can explain why that is. I occasionally feel that males make some attempt to be flirty and are more likely to make assumptions regarding add-ons and putting policies into force. When females are being pushy it appears more apparent, whereas with males it can be perceived as confidence or over-confidence rather than pushiness.

It is possible that I am paying less than a male. however I am aware that this is classified as gender discrimination. My age and occupation more likely have more affect on the premium (in terms of reducing it) than my gender. Whilst I feel that female-oriented benefits would help, I am unsure of how one would class a female-oriented benefit for car insurance. Previously the reductions in premiums were a really positive benefit females.

I haven't had any accidents in the last five years, which I feel positively impacts on the cost of my premiums, and rightly so. The last time I made a claim I felt that the insurers were very sympathetic, making sure I was not overly shaken. Whilst appreciated I doubt that a male of my age would be given the same treatment. A previous claim resulted in very simple aspects of insurance and claims procedure being explained to me incorrectly. I'm not sure whether my gender had an impact on that (I suspect so), however once I explained the correct procedure with (legal names and definitions) I was passed on to a supervisor who dealt with the claim appropriately. I believe that my gender and (at that time) age impacted on how I was treated.

Whenever I have had to deal with a garage with regards to a claim I feel that I have been treated differently because of my gender. One garage was very kind explained everything in simple terms whereas another tried to bamboozle me with science and absolve the requirement for them to provide a courtesy car free of charge. Again I had to use my studies of insurance to explain to them that they were incorrect. I believe that in both these situations a male would be treated differently.