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Why do Progressive, Esurance charge women drivers more?

September 29, 2017 by Steven M. Gursten

Study shows Progressive and Esurance are charging Michigan women drivers up to 38% more than they do men — and divorced women drivers pay more, too

Women Drivers

Progressive and Esurance charge women drivers more — much more — for Michigan No-Fault car insurance than they do men drivers.

Proof of this unlawful price-discrimination based on gender was uncovered by the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN)’s recent auto insurance rate study.

Both Progressive and Esurance have been repeatedly placed on our auto accident attorneys’ list of the Worst Auto Insurance Companies in Michigan. It’s no wonder they’re also brazenly flouting the legal rate restrictions set out in Michigan’s Insurance Code.​

Specifically, the CPAN study, “Higher Premiums for Widows, Other Single Women in Michigan Auto Insurance Market,” which was released to the public on September 7, 2017, found that “Progressive and Esurance alter rates for drivers based on their gender”:

  • “Progressive charges women with perfect driving records [i.e., “no accidents, tickets, or claims”] as much as 38 percent more than men with the same record, same vehicle, and same address …”
  • “Esurance charges women with perfect driving records [i.e., “no accidents, tickets, or claims”] as much as 33 percent more than men with the same record, same vehicle, and same address …”
  • “Progressive and Esurance lowered rates for 35 year old men after a divorce, even as they hiked premiums for female divorcees.” For example, the CPAN study noted, Esurance and Progressive charged divorced women $376 and $96 more, respectively, but charged divorced men $580 and $612 less, respectively.

In light of House lawmakers’ recent announcement of their “Fair and Affordable No-Fault Insurance Reform” plan, which would bar insurers from basing rates on non-driving-related factors such as ZIP codes and gender, the CPAN study couldn’t have come at a better time.

Progressive and Esurance are breaking the law by charging more to women drivers

Importantly, the CPAN study highlights something that has probably already occurred to you: It’s illegal for insurance companies to charge different prices to different drivers based on their gender.

In particular, the Insurance Code provides:

“An insurer shall not establish or maintain rates or rating classifications for automobile insurance based on sex …” (MCL 500.2111(4))

However, as the study’s results make clear, the legal prohibition against sex discrimination in car insurance pricing is nowhere near as effective as it should be.

Thankfully, Rep. Robert Kosowski (D-Westland) has recognized this injustice and introduced House Bill 4904, which would designate that:

“Charging a different rate for the same [No Fault auto insurance] coverage based on sex” is an “[u]nfair method[] of competition and unfair or deceptive act[] or practice[] in the business of insurance …”

Are women drivers subject to price discrimination in Detroit?

Sadly, the CPAN study found that the Motor City was no different from the rest of Michigan when it came to making women drivers pay more than men for car insurance:

“Progressive and Esurance charged between 10 percent and 38 percent more to women than men in Detroit, in one instance nearly $1,000 per year, despite all drivers tested having a clean driving record …”

Are women drivers paying more for car insurance in Brighton, Michigan?

Much like Detroit — and the rest of the state — women drivers in Brighton are paying more for auto insurance, according to the CPAN study:

“The same pricing structure [that exists in Detroit] was evident in Brighton, though the penalty for ‘driving while female’ was somewhat less with the increases on female drivers ranging from 3 percent to 26 percent.”

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