New Yorkers Paying Widely Disparate Rates on Auto Insurance

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  • People who have varying driving histories and even credit backgrounds can often expect to pay different amounts for their auto insurance coverage, but new data suggests that there are other factors consumers might not expect at play as well. As such, insurance agents may need to do more to reassure consumers that they’re paying exactly as much as they should when it comes to their plans.

    In New York, drivers who have received less formal education in their lives and who work non-professional or non-managerial jobs can often expect to pay considerably more for their auto insurance coverage than those who have graduated from college and have higher-paying jobs, according to a new study from the New York Public Interest Research Group. For instance, a bank teller who only has a high school degree can expect to pay 19 percent more for coverage from two of the state’s largest insurers than their supervisors who have college degrees would have to. Beyond that, though, one of those insurers would also charge a retail worker 41 percent more than the executive for the same coverage.

    “Auto insurance rates should be based on how you drive, not who you are,” said Andy Morrison, a consumer advocate for NYPIRG. “Our analysis shows that insurers are using factors that discriminate against many low- and moderate-income New Yorkers – the very New Yorkers who can least afford such high rates. [Insurers’] ads should say having a high school degree or non-professional job could mean paying an extra 15 percent or more on car insurance.”

    More data
    In some of the cases studied, it was found that drivers with non-professional or non-managerial jobs who had less education paid more for their coverage even when they drove far less every year, and had better driving records overall, the report said. J. Robert Hunter, the director of the Insurance for Consumer Federation of America and a former insurance commissioner for the state of Texas, noted that there may need to be tighter regulation of this kind of issue going forward.

    Insurance agents may need to therefore do a little bit of extra legwork to make sure they can find clients the most affordable coverage available to them regardless of their background. If they can’t, that might prompt those people to start shopping around for other coverage that might end up costing them less money over the course of the year.