Archive for December, 2012

Auto insurance rates and gender

Over the decades, there’s something rather magnificent about the continuing enthusiasm with which men proclaim they are better than women. No matter what the activity, there’s a kind of aggressive pride in operation. As if, just by claiming superiority, it must always be true. This may work in all the cases where there are no direct comparisons or competitions, and/or the outcome depends on physical strength, but once the statisticians get to work, they often find women outperform men. Ask anyone who works in the insurance industry, and you will consistently hear the answer that women drive more safely than men, make fewer claims, and their claims involve smaller amounts of money. This explains why a recent survey shows insurers quoting men auto insurance premium rates on average 23% higher than women.

The survey was carried out in seven states and collected some 5,000 quotes from the regulatory authorities. This makes the survey interesting. The more usual method is for the researchers to send out requests for auto insurance quotes through the online search engines. The analysis of records held by the Insurance Commissioners offers a different view of the same process. Obviously, the regulators monitor the way the market works in their states. This means a variety of different methods are adopted to collect quotes. However, the methods all depend on standardized profiles. The proposers are all aged [insert age], have no serious accidents on their records, have middle-income jobs, and so on. When all the data was identical except for the gender, insurers quoted higher premium rates for men 63% of the time, the quotes were the same 27% of the time, and women were quoted higher rates 10% of the time. If the survey was narrowed to drivers under 25 years, men were asked to pay an average of $675 a year more.

At this point, we should point to Europe. As from December 21, 2012 insurers must exclude all gender-elements to the pricing of risk. This is producing a dramatic equalization of the premium rates. It’s rather curious there’s no sign of men complaining about being the victims of sex discrimination in America. The laws are not dissimilar. A federal court could potentially find the US insurance industry had been unlawfully assessing premium rates and order them to change, perhaps even pay compensation. But there’s no enthusiasm for such a case. It seems American men do not object to being treated as second class drivers when it comes to the amount they pay. From this you will understand it makes no difference whether you get one or one-hundred auto insurance quotes. The pattern of discrimination has deep roots. So the only point to shopping around as a man, is to find the least bad auto insurance quote (as compared to women). It’s actually quite ironic that even if a man proves himself the equal of a woman in terms of safety record, he will still have to pay more to insure the same make and model.

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