AUSTIN — A new report shows female drivers in Texas with perfect driving records often pay on average more than male drivers with the identical driving history. That’s according to a new report released by Texas Appleseed.
Researchers from the organization analyzed online premium quotes from Allstate, Farmers Insurance, Geico, Progressive and State Farm across eight different cities: Amarillo, Arlington, Dallas, Houston, Laredo, Mission, San Antonio and Tyler.
“The average across all different marital statuses for women was about $56 more,” Ann Baddour, director of the Fair Financial Services Project at Texas Appleseed, said.
Texas Appleseed used a 40-year-old consumer profile, who was single, a cashier with a private employer, rented an apartment and owned a 2007 Toyota Camry. Both the male and female profiles tested were quoted for the most basic level of insurance needed to comply with Texas law. The only factors that varied were marital status and gender.
In one finding, four of the five companies showed different rates for married and widowed female drivers. Texas Appleseed says Geigo and Progressive charge female drivers whose spouse is deceased higher premiums than if their spouse was still alive. Married female drivers were given quotes that decreased after becoming a widow from Allstate and Farmers Insurance.
“If I have a good driving record, I should be getting the best prices,” Baddour said. “It doesn’t matter if I’m a woman or if I’m divorced. Any of these factors shouldn’t be playing a factor in how my auto insurance is priced, especially if I’m required by law to have this insurance.”
The Texas Department of Insurance says these are the areas the agency’s actuaries look for when reviewing rates.
“Texas law requires insurance rates to be reasonable, adequate, not discriminatory, and not excessive. Rates that vary by age or gender must be “based on sound underwriting or actuarial principles reasonably related to actual or anticipated loss experience,” Ben Gonzalez, spokesperson for the Texas Department of Insurance, said in a written statement. “If the company sets a higher rate for a certain age group or gender, it must provide information demonstrating higher claims losses for those customers.
In Texas, auto insurance companies must file their rates with the Texas Department of Insurance for review. Though they don’t need the agency’s approval before using the rates, the actuaries review the filings to make sure they’re justified.
“If the filing doesn’t meet the standards set in state law, we ask the company to provide more information or to amend or withdraw the filing,” Gonzalez said. “If they don’t, we can take action to disapprove the rate and protect policyholders.”
Texas Appleseed also compared how rates changed for female and male drivers based on location. Out of the cities analyzed in the study, Houston had the highest basic auto insurance, as well as the greatest average price hike for women. Mission came second.
The Insurance Council of Texas, in response to the report, highlighted other areas companies use in the underwriting process.
“You’re looking at all kinds of factors and credit score, so it’s hard to lump any one driver into a group,” Mark Hanna, spokesperson for the Insurance Council of Texas, said. “If you have a bad credit score, yes, it can raise your auto insurance rates. If you have a bad credit score, maybe you’re not taking care of your car and thus you might have more of a chance of having an accident.”
Hanna encouraged consumers to weigh all options when purchasing car insurance.
“If you shop around, you’re going to find the company and you’re going to find the right rates,” he said.
Baddour said she wants lawmakers to address the disparities in auto insurance rates come January.
“It’s an issue that impacts the bottom line of Texas families and helps support family financial stability,” she said.