By Helen Edwards

Getting an insurance quote will often start with the question of title; is the consumer a Ms, Dr, Reverend? etc. While gender identity is banned from being included in the algorithms which generate quotes, insurers tend to ask for the title so they know how to address correspondence. However, in 2021 - is the lack of gender neutral titles insurers recognise ageing the industry?

The Missing Mx

Of the main comparison markets, none of them offer gender neutral titles. This includes titles such as Doctor, which we have found are often suffixed by (Female)/(Male), despite the title being gender neutral by design.

Quotes direct from brands fare better with 8/10 of the largest home insurers in the market and 7/10 of the largest car insurers offering gender neutral Dr. However, this doesn’t aid the non-professional - the Mx.

Mx has been commonly used since the late 1970s, and was adopted into the Oxford English dictionary in 2015. The term can be used at banks, the post office, with the NHS, HMRC and for the Department of Work and Pensions, yet Admiral is the only 1 of the top ten home and car insurers that has it as an option during their quote journey.

To compare, the largest 10 current account providers in the market tell a far more inclusive story. Only 1 of these banks does not allow consumers to amend their title to Mx, with 5 including the title on their online applications and the remaining 4 stating that consumers can amend their title to a gender neutral one in-branch. All 4 use Mx, in their explanations of this procedure, as their primary example of gender neutral titles they accept.

This undermines arguments that have previously been put forward that insurers are behind due to their legacy systems requiring a gendered title. Most banks have, after all, existed far longer than their insurance counterparts and certainly longer than online comparison sites, yet they have managed to update their systems to reflect modern gender norms.

Bringing Insurers into 2021

In an age where titles are decreasing in use, with consumers able to forego them on credit cards for instance, the insurance industry either needs to drop the question of title all together or increase their available list to reflect society’s diversity in 2021.

Furthermore, for correspondence if insurers are looking to properly address their customers, introducing pronouns to the quote stage (either as a replacement or in addition to titles) would better suit this requirement. Not only would it cause less distress to customers if their correct pronouns were used, but it would also aid customer service operators when communicating with customers if they could have on screen a reference of what pronouns they should be using.

Insurance is an essential part of life for consumers, especially car insurance which is legally required. Considering this, there’s no excuse for the insurance industry to continue to operate with exclusively out-dated, gendered terms. It is important not only for customers who are currently subject to being misgendered, but also for the reputation of the insurance industry as a whole, that we see this change as soon as possible.