As an Oregon Personal Injury Lawyer and Consumer Lawyer, I am regularly asked by people if making a claim to their auto insurance will cause their insurance rates to go up. This is not an easy question to answer, because Insurance Companies are for profit businesses. As a result, Insurers are going to do what they feel is necessary in order to make a profit unless regulators or attorneys’ stop them. For example, GEICO was ordered to pay $23,000,000.00 to one of their insureds for GEICO failing to pay benefits, and denying payments on a whim. State Farm agreed to pay its customers $250,000,000 (That is not a typo) in order to avoid a racketeering trial in which customers claimed that State Farm was rigging an election for a Judge that had made favorable rulings for State Farm. USAA agreed to pay $39,000,000.00 to settle a lawsuit filed by its insureds (Veterans, Active Duty Military, and their families). These cases are evidence that some Insurance Companies are willing to skirt the law and disregard the moral high-ground in an effort to make a profit. Another example of insurers putting profit over people is how insurance companies are charging Oregon women more than Oregon men for auto insurance.
A recent study by an insurance search engine, The Zebra, found that Oregon women’ paid roughly $70.00 more for auto insurance last year than men did. A recent Pew Research study also came to the same conclusions on a national level. The studies found certain states prohibit gender based pricing, but Oregon is not one of them. What this means is that Insurers are at liberty to charge women more for insurance than men, and they do not have to have any justification for doing so.
The statistics support the fact that Oregon insurance companies are charging dramatically different rates for women than men. In 2016, insurers charged Oregon women $13.00 more for auto insurance than men. However, in 2018 that number inexplicably jumped to women paying $71.00 more for auto insurance than men. Does that mean that women are more dangerous on the road than men if insurers are charging them more? The answer is no.
The data does not support the Insurance Industry’s decisions to charge women more for car insurance in 25 States. The Zebra study affirmed that women and men equally engage in distracted driving, so that could not be a basis to charge women more. Additionally, fatality statistics do not support the insurance industry’s decision to overcharge Oregon women for car insurance. For example, men are the drivers in the vast majority of fatal Driving Under the Influence (DUII) crashes. Men also cause more speed related wrongful deaths on the road. The statistics show that men are riskier to insure than women.
Additionally, different companies charge different rates to similarly situated women throughout the country. For example, State Farm charged middle aged women the same as men. However, GEICO charged middle aged women 16% more than men. This is an important statistic. If insurance companies rates reflect the risk of a particular demographic of drivers then there would not be such a large disparity between the rates particular insurance companies are charging.
Then why are insurance companies charging women the so called “pink tax” to insure their vehicles? Why have the number of states where women pay more than men doubled in the past two years? The answer is simple, profits. The insurance industry is operating in a relaxed regulatory environment that permits them to take actions that will make their companies more profitable, even if that means imposing the “pink tax” on women.
For example, the insurance industry knows that Oregon does not have a bad faith claim, and Insurance Companies are specifically exempted from Oregon’s Unlawful Trade Practices Act (UTPA). The UTPA is a law that provides consumers a remedy if consumers are ripped off by a business. However, the insurance industry lobbied the legislature to be exempted from that law. As a result the insurance industry knows they are likely immune from any real consequences of arbitrarily charging women more for insurance than men.
Despite the insurance industry’s protections, here at Ross Law we will sue insurance companies if a person has been wronged by an insurer and there is a recognized legal remedy for that person. For example we regularly sue insurance companies on behalf of people whose automobile insurers deny paying personal injury protection benefits. We also sue insurance companies to collect uninsured and under-insured motorist benefits. Ross Law has also sued insurance companies for denying insurance coverage for a car crash.
If you or someone you know has an issue with an auto insurance company please call Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658 for your free case evaluation. Ross Law PDX is happy to represent Oregonians in many types insurance disputes.
Please note that Ross Law PDX is not affiliated with The Zebra or the Pew Research Center. Please refer to the links in the article for the most accurate information. Please note that this blog may be considered attorney advertising and expresses the opinions of this law office. Please remember that the law is constantly changing and insurance issues are usually very complicated. Please consult with an Oregon attorney if you have a dispute with an Oregon insurer. Do not simply rely on this blog post.