Where are women paying more and why?

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Across the country, women pay slightly more, on average, than men, but they pay noticeably more in 21 states and Washington, D.C., especially considering, as a group, they account for fewer accidents.

The Zebra’s study compared more than 83 million rates offered between September and December 2020 for auto insurance by gender, age and location.

The study’s findings aren’t consistent with what’s known about the driving risks each gender poses.

Men and women get tickets and warnings at essentially the same rate, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

However, at any age, male drivers account for 68% to 70% of all crash involvements. And men represent 70.5% of all driver deaths, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

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Where is the disparity the greatest?

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The widest gender gap between auto insurance rates is in Florida. In the Sunshine State, women pay an average of $85 more per year than men do.

Age is another factor that contributes to the disparity in rates.

While it’s fairly well known that teenage boys pay significantly more than teen girls for auto insurance, the pendulum starts to swing back after age 30.

Women in their 50s in Louisiana pay $118 — or 5.6% — more than men of the same age, on average.

In Oregon, women in their 30s pay an average of 6.5%, or $91, more per year than men in their demographic. And in their 40s, the difference grows to 7.6%, or a difference of $104.

It’s a similar situation for residents in Utah, Minnesota and Washington, where middle-aged men can expect to pay 4.1%, 4.8% and 5.7% less than women, respectively, when they shop for policies.

What’s going on here?

One potential reason for the major disparity in rates is how likely women are to be injured or die in a car accident.

Women are 20% to 28% likelier than men to die in a car accident and 37% to 73% likelier than men to be seriously injured, according to analysis by the IIHS.

The institute found two possible explanations for that: first, women are often drivers in the struck vehicle in crashes; and second, women tend to drive lighter cars than men do.

However, The Zebra wasn’t convinced this fully explains why women pay so much more as medical or personal injury claims don’t increase rates nearly as much as speeding, drunk driving and at-fault accidents, where men account for a majority of the infractions.

Which states ban gender-based rating?

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There are only a handful of states that currently don’t allow insurance companies to consider gender as a rating factor for car insurance quotes.

They are:

  • California.
  • Hawaii.
  • Massachusetts.
  • Michigan.
  • Montana.
  • North Carolina.
  • Pennsylvania.

When California’s Department of Insurance announced the ban back in 2018, the department stated that gender-based rating had produced a number of problems over the decades in which it had been used.

“Gender’s relationship to risk of loss no longer appears to be substantial, and the logical justification … has become suspect,” the department said at the time.

Meanwhile, Michigan’s ban on using gender as a rating factor was part of a larger legislative change in 2020 that significantly reduced a number of factors insurance companies could use to price policies.

In Michigan it's now illegal for insurers to draw on gender and other personal rating factors like marital status, level of education and homeownership.

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How to pay less for insurance, whoever you are

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While you can’t control your age or gender — or maybe even your location — there are a few things you can do to lower your risk as a driver and lock in better rates on car insurance.

  • Avoid filing claims. The more claims you file, the more you cost your insurer and the higher your risk will be. Try to avoid filing a claim unless you absolutely need to.

  • Consider telematic programs. Some insurance companies will give you a discount on your rate just for signing up for and using an app to track your driving behavior.

  • Improve your credit score. In almost all states, your auto insurance provider can take your credit into account when coming up with quotes. Boosting your credit score can help you lock in an even lower rate on insurance.

  • Max out your discount options. If you’re not driving too much during the pandemic, your car insurance company may be offering a pandemic “stimulus check”. If that’s not the case, check in with your insurer if you’re missing out on any discount opportunities.

  • Shop around for quotes. Comparing insurance quotes is the single best way to save on auto insurance. By shopping around for rates, you can save up to $1,000 a year.

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About the Author

Sigrid Forberg

Sigrid Forberg

Associate Editor

Sigrid’s current role is associate editor, and she has also worked as a reporter and staff writer on the MoneyWise team.

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