The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Auto Insurance Discrimination

Oct 2, 2017

City of Detroit residents pay–by far–the highest auto insurance rates in the United States, as is true for residents of the State of Michigan as well. One zip code in Detroit–48227–has an average auto insurance rate of $7,415 a year!

The auto insurance industry claims that rates are highest in Michigan because it is the only state that requires unlimited medical benefits for accident victims. But according to Michigan Public Radio, this claim is impossible to prove since auto insurance companies are allowed to hide information. “Michigan is one of the few states that doesn’t require the insurance companies to ... [release]... profit margins on the auto insurance.”

In fact, in all but four states, auto insurance companies don’t release much information at all. Auto insurers argue that information is “valuable” and they don’t want to be forced to give it away for free!

But in California, Illinois, Texas and Missouri, SOME information is required to be released and it has gone to good use.

In 2017, a study on auto insurance discrimination was put together by Consumer Reports and ProPublica. When the numbers were crunched about injury and property damage claims in these four states, discrimination against minorities was found across the board.

People with a perfect driving record paid more for auto insurance if they were part of a minority group. The study found “good drivers” paid 30 percent higher rates–on average–in minority neighborhoods as compared to predominantly white neighborhoods. This was true even though costs for the insurance companies were often higher in predominantly white neighborhoods!

It is legal in Michigan and most other states for auto insurance companies to price according to characteristics that have nothing to do with your driving record.

An insurance researcher named Douglas Heller looked into this in Michigan. He comparison shopped auto insurance companies, using the website. He used the same exact address and car. The only thing he varied was the “type of person” trying to get the insurance. What he found was horrible. He found auto insurance companies charging more for women than for men, charging more for single people than for married, and charging more for factory workers than for lawyers.

The auto insurance industry uses CUTE advertisements on TV to sell their product, but their business practices are UGLY. No wonder the auto insurers fight to keep their data secret!