Some upper-income drivers with bad driving records pay less for auto insurance than good drivers with moderate incomes, researchers have found.
A study by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) found higher auto insurance rate quotes for moderate-income drivers who had clean driving records compared to more wealthy drivers who had a drunken driving conviction, caused an accident with an injury, or were ticketed for speeding.
The CFA used websites for five major insurers in 10 big cities to get auto insurance quotes for two hypothetical drivers with different socioeconomic attributes.
“It is profoundly unfair that a driver with a moderate income and a perfect driving record is often charged more for auto insurance than higher-income drivers with DUIs, accidents and speeding tickets,” said J. Robert Hunter, CFA’s director of insurance, in a statement.
The CFA opposes using non-driving-related factors in setting rates for auto insurance, given that minimum liability coverage is required in most states.
Researchers found that in 70 percent of tests, a moderate-income driver with a perfect driving record was charged more for basic liability insurance than a high-income driver with a recent drunken driving, or DUI, conviction.
It also found that 53 percent of the time, the same moderate-income drivers were charged more than high-income drivers who recently caused an accident resulting in bodily injury.
In over half of the tests (19 of 36) the moderate-income driver was charged more for basic insurance than a high-income driver who caused an accident and was convicted of speeding in the past year.
California was the only market tested where good drivers always paid less than poor ones, no matter their income. California has the best consumer protections in the nation to prevent unfair pricing, according to the CFA, and it recommends that other states adopt similar standards.
California bars the use of a driver’s previous insurance coverage history to set rates. Some insurers charge more if a driver has a gap in insurance, such as losing their license after driving drunk and not being able to drive for months.
Some gaps in coverage can be explained to an insurance agent to prevent a higher quote. For example, a veteran who didn’t have insurance while they were out of the country during military duty should discuss it with an insurance agent.
To find the best auto insurance rate, it’s important to shop around and get quotes from several insurers for the coverage you want and need.
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