Car insurance uk non resident

Car insurer Admiral has been plunged into a race row after being accused by the consumer body Which? of "discriminating" against people born outside Britain by charging them more for motor cover.

Which? said its legal advice had concluded Admiral was in breach of the Race Relations Act, and claimed its behaviour amounted to "shameful" discrimination. But the insurer – a FTSE 100 company with more than 2 million customers worldwide – rejected the accusations, saying that it "respects every customer, regardless of race, colour or religion".

An investigation by Which? found the group, which includes Bell, Diamond and elephant.co.uk, typically added 18% to car insurance premiums for drivers who had not lived in the UK since birth.

The consumer organisation said the legal experts it consulted "believe this is a clear-cut case of discrimination on the basis of national origin". It added it would be passing full details of its investigation to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Which? obtained quotes from four Admiral brands and 15 other major providers for two scenarios where the only difference was whether or not the applicant was born in the UK. It said the Admiral insurers were the only ones in its research to ask "have you lived in the UK since birth?" and then charge a higher premium for those who answered "no" where all other factors remained the same.

Under the Race Relations Act 1976, insurers can treat customers differently if it is a "proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim". Which? said it had consulted a race law expert, who did not believe Admiral's actions could be justified as being proportionate. "She told us that asking if potential customers had lived in the UK since birth, and charging them a higher premium if not, was, in her view, 'unlawfully discriminatory'."

Peter Vicary-Smith, Which? chief executive, 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 this kind of discrimination has been outlawed for decades. We're calling on the Admiral Group to stop this shameful practice immediately."

The consumer organisation sought quotes for a 50-year-old Citroen C1 Vibe driver living in north London. Quotes were obtained for both male and female drivers from each insurer. Where the company asked whether the applicant was born in the UK, two quotes were sought, answering "yes" in one application and "no" in the other. Where the individual was born outside the UK, they moved to Britain in 1975, aged 15. On average, premiums from the Admiral group of insurers were 18.3% more expensive for the applicant born outside the UK. There was no difference in the quotation received from any other insurer.

Which? said the company had claimed that in its experience, policyholders who had not lived in the UK all their lives had a worse claims record.

Admiral was launched in 1993 and specialises in "cheap car insurance quotes for drivers who often have to pay higher premiums". In a statement the company said: "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. This is not an origin question, but a residency [question]." It said it did not ask any questions about where a person was from or what religion they were.

Asked whether the company was taking legal advice about the claims made by Which. a spokeswoman declined to comment.

The Guardian website last month highlighted the case of Cyprus-born Marios Hadjianastasis. Elephant.cooffered the most promising deal at £506 but when Hadjianastasis answered a question about how long he had been in the UK, the premium soared to £614.

• This article was amended on 17 March 2010 to clarify details of Marios Hadjianastasis's case

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