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Auto Insurers Tag Renters with Higher Rates

Consumer group accuses companies of discrimination.

by on Feb.08, 2016

The last time you got one of these may not be the biggest factor in what you pay for auto insurance.

If you think your last speeding ticket is the reason your car insurance is so high, you may want to think again: it may be your home.

More precisely, your auto insurance rate may be directly tied to whether you own your home or if you rent, according to a recent report from the Consumer Federation of America.

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If all things are equal, insurance companies charge as much as 47% more for basic liability auto insurance if a driver doesn’t own a home, according to a new analysis of premiums.

What does it mean? Some would argue that insurance companies that charge more are discriminating against lower-income drivers. CFA found that premiums were an average of 7% higher – about $112 per year – for drivers who rent instead of own homes.

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The biggest violator was Liberty Mutual, which penalized renters with premium hikes averaging $307 per year, or 19% more, for state mandated auto insurance coverage.

“To raise people’s auto insurance premium because they can’t afford to buy their homes unfairly discriminates against lower-income drivers,” said J. Robert Hunter, CFA’s Insurance Director. “A good driver is a good driver whether she rents or owns her home.  Insurance companies should not be allowed to target people based on homeownership status.”

How is it discriminatory? According to Federal Reserve Board data, the median income of renters in the U.S. was $27,800 in 2013 compared with $63,400 for homeowners.

To conduct the survey, CFA tested rates for minimum limits liability coverage in 10 cities from the nation’s largest insurers – State Farm, Geico, Allstate, Progressive, Farmers, Liberty Mutual and Nationwide.

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CFA used company websites to solicit two premiums in each city for a 30-year-old female motorist who has a 2005 Honda Civic and a perfect driving record. The only characteristic that was altered during the testing was whether she owned or rented her home.

What they found was that there was an average increase of 6% for renters compared with homeowners. However, Farmers Insurance charged renters in Louisville, Kentucky, 47% more — $768 – for basic insurance.

Other findings:

  • Allstate charged renters in Tampa, Florida, 19% more
  • Liberty Mutual charged Baltimore renters 23% more
  • Liberty Mutual charged 26% more in Newark

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Geico was the only company tested that did not consider homeownership status in any of the 10 cities. The only premium decrease for renters was found in Chicago, where Allstate lowered rates by 11% compared with premiums for homeowners.

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One Response to “Auto Insurers Tag Renters with Higher Rates”

  1. GT101 says:

    We don’t see the Feds clamping down on clear discrimination by the insurance industry, do we? We don’t see daily reports on how the insurance industry is dishonest and discriminating against people based on their residence, race, residential location, or other illegal basis, do we? Why is that? Aren’t the insurance companies lying to consumers to try and justify the excessive rates? Aren’t the insurance companies in collusion to keep the rates far higher than required?

    Why does the FTC and DOJ allow this discrimination and exploitation to occur yet we don’t hear the media blasting the insurance companies for “lying” to the public and “defrauding” the public? Why haven’t hundreds of class action lawsuits been filed against the insurance industry for their criminal behavior? After all they have been LYING to all insured for years.