JACKSONVILLE, Fla .– An Action News Jax investigation reveals disparities in the amount you pay for auto insurance in Florida based on your gender, credit rating and where you live. We’ve analyzed tens of thousands of lines of insurance data and found that your driving history is only a very small factor in how you’re billed.
There is no shortage of drivers on the roads of Jacksonville and no shortage of drivers willing to give Action News Jax their “two cents” on the cost of auto insurance.
Driver Easter Gibbons said, “I have Geico and my insurance has gone up and I asked why?”
Driver Michael Schornak said: “You don’t need it until you need it, and I think the insurance is way too high.”
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The association Consumers Federation of America raises concerns about how insurance companies determine what you pay.
CFA provided Action News Jax with pricing data obtained from Quadrant Information Services, LLC. The data detailed annual insurance premiums for Florida’s 10 largest insurers.
Doug Heller of CFA said, “I want insurance companies to know that we are monitoring their behavior.
Heller said the data provided to Action News Jax came from 35-year-old Florida drivers who drive the most common car, a 2011 Honda Civic EX, who drive 10 miles every day to get to work and who have perfect driving records.
What differed was their gender, their credit rating and the zip code where they lived. Heller, who has worked on insurance matters for more than 20 years, says they have found disparities.
“The pain of unfair pricing in the Florida auto insurance market somehow builds up on poor communities, communities of color in particular, and then gets worse for women.” Heller also said, “We’ve also found that if you look at people’s credit histories the penalty for having low credit is excruciating, we’re talking about thousands of dollars a year or more for auto insurance.”
Action News Jax has created a tool that you can use to see the price disparities that Heller found in his research. The tool shows you how much you would pay for each business based on your location, gender, and credit score.
You can use this tool at the bottom of this story.
At a glance, the CFA determined that, on average, women in Florida pay around $ 220 more than men, and people with poor credit pay around $ 1,800 more than people with great credit.
Heller said: “There really is no good excuse for insurance companies to use credit, but they love it because it allows them to slice and slice the market so they can find the customers. who have more wealth and more financial stability, because they think they’re going to be able to sell them more products.
Heller said the data also shows that some zip codes with higher populations of black residents appear to have higher rates than zip codes with predominantly white residents.
Heller said: “You could almost map the old history of racist housing policy onto the current car insurance price maps and it would look the same, so there’s no way that would happen. It’s not just random. These are the roots of the institutional racism that plays out in the premiums we pay for auto insurance. “
Mark Friedlander with the Insurance Information Institute disputes the CFA’s findings that there are price disparities for auto insurance premiums in Florida based on gender, zip code or credit rating.
“The process seems flawed to us. Friedlander also said: “It doesn’t match what they’re showing here.”
Friedlander said statistics show why credit scores matter for price.
He said, “For layman’s terms, we’ll call it your insurance score. Those with higher scores are safer drivers and less likely to have an accident and file a claim. Those with a lower credit score will be more likely to have an accident and file a claim. “
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Friedlander said research from the Insurance Information Institute also shows that women pay less than men – not more.
Friedlander said: “They have fewer accidents, they have fewer dui violations and most importantly, they have less serious accidents.”
Action News Jax also asked Friedlander how postcode and race factor into pricing. “The way insurers see this is that they determine your location and look at data like the rate of theft, vandalism and accidents in a particular area and they rate each zip code based on those factors. “
Friedlander also said: “The other thing I really want to point out is that it is illegal for insurers to determine the rate based on race or ethnicity.”
Friedlander told Action News Jax that the National Association of Insurance Commissioners has formed a task force to review all of the criteria used by insurers.
Friedlander said: “One of the reasons they have this formula of a dozen additional scoring factors is to avoid such scenarios. They don’t want to find themselves in a position where an insurer is accused of biasing one driver over another or favoring one area of one community over another.
Heller supports the findings of the Consumer Federation of America and says he will continue to push insurance companies and lawmakers to level the playing field.
Florida law requires drivers to purchase insurance. Action News Jax therefore reached out to lawmakers to find out their role in ensuring fair pricing.
State Senator Audrey Gibson, who represents Jacksonville, said she supports the use of data to determine rates for drivers.
Gibson said, “But nothing serious that’s totally determined by zip code, race or gender for that matter. And the legislator has a duty to ensure that this does not happen. “
Many drivers like Britney Kushma wish it were easier. “It should just be based on how you drive your car. Friedlander of the Insurance Information Institute said it was more complicated than that – otherwise insurance companies wouldn’t be able to pay for accidents and stay in business. Friedlander said: “There are many factors that determine whether you know what type of driver you are and driving history is not enough.”
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While there is some debate about what should factor into the amount you pay, almost everyone Action News Jax has spoken to has agreed on what you can do to save money. money – shop around. Heller said, “You spend an hour, you will almost certainly save $ 100 or $ 200 on your fares.”
There is a bill on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s office that would require drivers to purchase personal injury coverage instead of personal injury coverage.
Supporters say it would help lower rates and prevent fraud. But critics believe it could make auto insurance more expensive – creating challenges for low-income drivers and leading to more uninsured drivers on the road.
Below, you can use the tool created by Action News Jax to see price disparities, which also includes data from the Consumer Federation of America.
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