Research by the BBC showed unemployed owners are paying up to 63% more for their car and van insurance.
Mystery shopping applications for car insurance quotes were made to car insurance firms through three brokers.
The results were compared to identical quotes for employed drivers – and all charged more, with the surcharge ranging from 30% top 63%.
When challenged about their reasons for charging the jobless more for their car cover, the underwriters claimed one reason was unemployed drivers travel along unfamiliar routes for job interviews that are more likely to lead them to having an accident.
Other reasons included an increased risk of a claim because the unemployed do not have the cash to maintain their cars to a high standard – even though car insurers will not issue cover without a valid MoT certificate unless the car is less than three years old.
They also cited a higher risk of fraud because a jobless driver needs the money more than an employed car owner.
With the jobless rate in the UK running at 8.4%, this could mean a huge number of drivers paying over the odds for their car insurance.
Insurers have always weighted cover by assessing a driver’s job – but including a penalty payment for not having one seems rather severe.
Meanwhile, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has suggested one way of cutting car insurance costs could be including rural road driving as part of the compulsory test.
The IAM claims 82% of serious and fatal crashes are on single-carriageway A-roads
Chief executive Simon Best said that while cars and roads are safe, drivers need to be encouraged to use them properly.
“We can only improve our cars and roads so far. The challenge now is to improve the humans that drive them, to continue our outstanding record of road safety,” he said.