New data from the investigative journalism team at ProPublica and Consumer Reports show that auto insurance costs more for those living in minority neighborhoods.
People of color are even charged more when they have the same driving record and risks as those in white and wealthier communities.
The analysis examined auto insurance premiums and payouts in California, Illinois, Texas, and Missouri. ProPublica also looked at car insurance rates in Chicago. It seems that insurers quote the same prices in all neighborhoods, but wealthier, suburban ones end up paying less.
The report attempts to address the disparity. One thought is discrimination is part of the history of American businesses treating nonwhites less equitably. Or, and possibly a more technical cause is that the algorithms insurance underwriters use skew higher rates in minority neighborhoods.
Here are some findings of the report:
- In Illinois, 33 of the 34 companies analyzed charged average rates that were at least 10% higher for the same safe driver in minority zip codes than in comparably risky non-minority zip codes. Six Illinois insurers, including Allstate, which is the second largest insurer in the state, had average disparities higher than 30%.
- In Missouri and Texas, at least half of the companies evaluated were charging higher rates on average for the same safe driver in high-risk minority communities than in other comparably risky communities.
- Even in highly regulated California, eight companies were charging minority zip codes more than 10% higher premiums on average than similarly risky non-minority zip codes.
- While in Illinois the disparities remained about the same from the safest to the most dangerous zip codes, in the other three states the disparities were confined to the riskiest neighborhoods. In those instances, prices in whiter neighborhoods stayed about the same as risk increased, while premiums in minority neighborhoods went up.