Perhaps you are showing your age, or your loyalty or conservatism, and you still have a Hotmail address – the same one you have had since 1998. If so, be warned: it could be affecting the cost of your van insurance policy , causing you to pay more than if you chose to send and receive your messages with another provider.
This surprising revelation comes following a report by The Sun newspaper in which it was detailed how major insurance company Admiral provided would-be policyholders with more expensive motor insurance quotes if they had their email accounts with the much maligned but not quite yet extinct email server.
According to the report, quotes for Hotmail account holders were as much as £31.36 more expensive than for those with email accounts with other providers – for example, Gmail, AOL or Apple. Van insurance comparison websites such as GoCompare were no different when offering quotes on behalf of Admiral: one prospective van driver was offered a £467.04 quote with his Hotmail account yet only £435.68 when using his Gmail. This trend was repeated across various other motor insurance comparison websites, including MoneySuperMarket and Confused.com.
It is hardly news that van insurance companies are calculating premiums based on various pieces of information about a policyholder. However, what sets the email account discrimination apart from most other criteria used by insurers when calculating their algorithms is that it seems highly abstract to the issue at stake, perhaps even irrelevant.
In fact, it is just the latest in a long line of slights against the Hotmail brand. Even Microsoft, which owns Hotmail, has sought to abandon it, giving account holders the opportunity to replace their Hotmail handle with the trendier and more respected Outlook brand. Hotmail is, frankly, the butt of many an email joke. Perhaps it is because of its association with the now defunct MSN Messenger – once the virtual place to be for emo teenagers – or perhaps its because it’s the email of choice for your granny. Even so, until recently Hotmail remained the busiest webmail site in the UK, with 324 million monthly visitors during 2012, and its decline since then has been sharp.
For those already suffering the “shame” of having a Hotmail account, it does seem somewhat unfair that they are further ostracised by being charged more for their van insurance on the basis of their email server. It also baffles that email qualifies as an influential “life factor” on the quality of their driving.
As a spokesperson with the offending insurance company, Admiral, told the press, it uses “a variety of pieces of information to accurately produce a competitive price for our customers.”
However, the assertion that “certain domain names are associated with more accidents than others” surely needs some more rigorous testing, partly because it flies against the face of reason that those with Hotmail accounts (who are likely to be older and more conservative drivers) are going to be a greater accident risk than those who are looking to remain on-trend with their emails.
Admiral’s defence has not stopped Martha Spurrier from human rights group Liberty arguing that, “This kind of discrimination has no place in the UK.” It is only recently that The Sun discovered that some insurance companies were charging more for drivers with non-traditionally English-sounding names such as Mohammed – up to £900 extra more in some cases.
Van drivers who are still loyally committed to the Hotmail brand could certainly be forgiven for setting up a new account with another provider, particularly if it means making savings of around £40 on the cost of their van insurance premium and particularly in light of the fact that the cost of the average motor insurance quote has risen by £30 in the past year – now standing at £493, a historical high according to the Association of British Insurers.