Even though most experts agree that men have significantly higher chances of being involved in car accidents, studies show that women are, in fact, being charged higher auto insurance rates.
The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) released a statement last week explaining how auto insurance rates depend more on gender than they do on driving history.
“These days insurance companies are charging women more for auto insurance than they charge men,” says Doug Heller, an insurance analyst with CFA. “Not all the time, but much more than we expected.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, male drivers cause 6.1 million accidents annually, while women are at fault in 4.4 million crashes per year. However, studies conducted by the CFA found that 40- and 60-year-old women with perfect driving records nearly twice as often pay more for basic coverage than men who have the same driving history.
The study also confirms that women in their 20s typically pay less than men for essential coverage. Nonetheless, companies like GEICO have been known to regularly charge young female drivers higher auto insurance rates than males within the same age group in nine out of 10 major cities throughout the U.S.
“It used to be that men paid more for insurance than women because there was a lot of data showing men caused more and more expensive accidents, but suddenly there’s been a switch,” Heller continued.
The study conducted by the CFA was based on 165 pairs of online quotes that were issued to both male and female motorists who were either 20, 40 or 60 years of age and lived in one of 10 major U.S. metropolitan areas. Six of the country’s largest auto insurance providers were also included in the study, including Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, Liberty Mutual, Progressive and State Farm.
The study’s findings also concluded that there were 38 instances where women with perfect driving records were charged at least $100 more per year than male drivers. In six cases, women were charged up to $500 more in car insurance premiums.
“It is widely believed that male drivers, especially young male drivers, cause more, and costlier, accidents,” says J. Robert Hunter, the CFA’s Director of Insurance. “State insurance commissioners should insist that auto insurers explain why they usually charge middle-aged and older women higher rates than men.”
Nonetheless, the study showed some inconsistencies from one carrier to another depending on the city. For example, female drivers in Baltimore and Minneapolis were most likely to pay higher insurance rates than male motorists, but men actually faced more expensive rates in cities like Atlanta and Cleveland.
"Gender and driving record are only two of the numerous variables an auto insurer assesses," said spokesperson Michael Barry of the Insurance Information Institute (III). "And state insurance regulators insist that these variables be justified."