Study says auto insurance companies discriminate based on gender

Posted at 5:34 PM, Sep 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-07 17:40:44-04

Should a woman have to pay more than a man with the same driving record for auto insurance?

A new study claims some insurance companies are discriminating against people not only based on gender, but marital status.

The study was sponsored by the group Michigan’s Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault.

They are fighting insurance companies to keep no-fault insurance in Michigan.

The researcher behind it all says he asked for quotes from insurance companies - changing only the gender or marital status listed on the application.

“You see companies that are doing it the right way,” said Douglas Heller, CPAN researcher.  “But with a couple of companies, including Progressive, Esurance, and when it comes to marital status Liberty Mutual - they are doing these differential ratings that discriminate against women and unmarried people.”

It is no small amount. CPAN claims Progressive charges women with perfect driving records as much as 38 percent more than men with the same record and vehicle. 

At Esurance, the number is allegedly 33 percent. 

Then, there is Liberty Mutual, which allegedly applied a 5 percent surcharge on all drivers who lose a spouse, regardless of their sex.

“There is no reason someone with a perfect driving record should see her rates go up because she lost her husband,” said Heller.

Seven Action News reached out to the three companies  named as problematic in the study’s report for comment.

Liberty Mutual released a statement saying:

One of Liberty Mutual’s fundamental principles is to treat all people – including customers, co-workers and the public at large – with dignity and respect. We support and embrace an inclusive environment that is free from discrimination in the workplace and in our businesses." 
"Auto insurance is one of the most competitive insurance markets in the United States, with many companies for drivers to choose from when seeking to insure their cars. Liberty Mutual looks at dozens of factors when determining a customer’s overall risk, all of which must comply with state insurance regulations. We are committed to offering all drivers fair and competitively priced car insurance coverage options backed by benefits, discounts and superior customer service.”

Progressive released a statement saying,Our rating factors are actuarially justified and in compliance with all state laws and applicable insurance statutes. When pricing a driver’s policy, we use many different factors.”

Esurance responded refusing to answer whether or not the company charged men and women different rates. It said to go to the Insurance Alliance for Michigan for comment.

“We don’t know which factors they are using, how they are using information, if they are accurate, so we challenge the methodology of this study,” said the Insurance Alliance for Michigan.

Seven Action News decided to ask Esurance for two quotes. The applications were filled out identically, except for the gender of the customer. 

The Esurance website provided a quote for $1,525 for the application listing the potential customer as a male, and a quote of $1,944 in response to an application listing the potential customer as a female.

CPAN says it is illegal in Michigan to discriminate in pricing based on gender.

The Insurance Alliance for Michigan says the study is a distraction, aimed at taking the conversation off of its effort to reform no-fault insurance laws in Michigan.

CPAN says the study shows insurance rates are not fairly set by some insurance companies.