Report: Women pay more on average for auto insurance
Middletown Transcript, The (DE)
Contrary to the popular stereotype, women in Delaware actually pay more than men for car insurance, according to a new report compiled by the Consumer Federation of America and the Delaware Department of Insurance.
The study found that most auto insurers in Delaware charge women about 8% more than men, even if the two individuals are the same age with identical driving records. The worst disparities were found in premiums for Geico and Progressive, which charged women an average of 21% and 20% more than men, respectively, according to the report.
"We as a regulator have a responsibility to consumers to ensure that they're treated fairly when purchasing insurance," said Christina Haas, senior policy adviser for the Delaware Department of Insurance.
Delaware, like most states, requires auto insurance for all drivers. This makes these price disparities practically unavoidable. However, a Senate bill proposed in conjunction with the Department of Insurance's report could remove sex and gender from the auto insurance rating process.
Haas said the bill will hopefully be discussed in committee within the next few weeks.
"We want to make sure that we're creating a more equitable market as a whole," she said.
The new policy proposal comes alongside a push to allow transgender and nonbinary Delawareans to change the gender marker on their licenses, including to a new gender-neutral option. But without an auto insurance equity policy in place, Haas said, gender changes on licenses could lead to higher premiums.
"The stereotypes perpetuated by past generations are continuing to permeate our current lives and our wallets," Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro wrote in the report.
Insurance is "not an industry immune from systemic disparities," Navarro wrote. He urged Delaware residents to reach out to state legislators about taking steps toward banning the use of gender in determining auto insurance rates, as six states already do.
The disparity in Delaware's auto insurance rates is in the middle ground when it comes to gendered rates nationwide, said Michael DeLong, research and advocacy associate at Consumer Federation of America. He helped compile the Department of Insurance's report using data gathered by Quadrant Information Services, a company specializing in insurance price analytics.
DeLong said the findings "weren't terribly surprising" to him as someone working in the realm of auto insurance. But for many people, including Haas, the "lack of transparency and accountability" in the auto insurance industry makes it difficult to "actually know what is going on and how (non-driving) factors are used."
The findings were met with opposition from the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, a trade association for insurers. In a written statement, the association's Vice President of International Policy Dave Snyder said the report "may contain misleading results" due to the "lack of facts and methodology."
Snyder also asserted that gender "is an accurate predictor of the likelihood and cost of insurance claims," noting that other states allow the use of gender in determining premiums.
However, according to Delaware State Police's annual traffic report, less than 39% of people involved in car crashes in 2020 were women. That same year, women accounted for less than 28% of traffic deaths nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The long history of the insurance industry gives trade association leaders like Snyder "authority and influence" over politics, Haas said.
Still, Haas encouraged Delawareans to reach out to their representatives rather than their insurance agencies about the disparate rates.
"Consumers really are the key to making sure that legislators are being responsive to the need for this equity change," she said.
Send story tips or ideas to Hannah Edelman at [email protected]. For more reporting, follow them on Twitter at @h_edelman.