Delaware’s state Legislature adjourned for the year without the House taking action on Senate Bill (SB) 231, which called for prohibiting the use of gender as a rating factor in personal automobile insurance policies.
The measure was based on research conducted with the Consumer Federation of America that contended many insured Delaware women are charged more than men, even when all other factors are the same. If signed into law, it would have required Delaware’s auto insurers to revisit how they price their personal automobile insurance policies for all drivers. Six states – California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania – already have similar laws in place.
“The Delaware state Legislature and the Department of Insurance have the right and responsibility to govern and regulate how insurance companies conduct business within the State of Delaware,” Triple-I Chief Insurance Officer Dale Porfilio wrote in response to SB 231, which was approved by the Delaware Senate in April 2022. However, in his letter to Delaware Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro, he raised several concerns with the underlying research, including:
Website Quotes vs. Issued Policies. While the Internet and electronic processing of quotes have dramatically improved the speed and accuracy of quotes, Porfilio wrote, “Many details can change for the portion of quotes which ultimately become issued policies, causing quotes to not be 100 percent accurate for issued premiums.”
Single Hypothetical Insured vs. Range of Actual Insureds. The report studied hypothetical 35-year-old drivers, then drew a conclusion about the full breadth of female and male drivers in the state of Delaware.
Aggregation across Zip Codes. Pricing methodologies are refined to very specific territorial definitions, which vary by insurer, and the report does not describe how the sample was aggregated across Zip Codes.
Porfilio explained that a consequence of enacting S.B. 231 would be a redistribution of who pays how much premium, with most of the premium increases paid by female policyholders (notably at younger ages), and a majority of the premium decreases received by male policyholders.
Critics of U.S. auto insurer pricing practices have expressed concerns that certain rating factors discriminate against certain groups. Triple-I has explained in multiple contexts how U.S. auto insurers use a wide variety of rating factors to accurately price policies. These factors must conform to the laws and regulations of the state in which the auto insurance policies are sold, and eliminating any one could force less-risky policyholders to overpay and allow those with greater risk to pay less than they should.
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