If you’re a guy, you’ve probably heard that you’re paying more for car insurance. You see, auto insurance companies often use your gender when calculating your rates.
And just two years ago, men were paying more for car insurance nationally. That’s because statistically, male drivers are more likely to crash their cars or get busted for DUI. Male drivers die at a rate of 2.5 deaths per 100 million miles traveled, compared to 1.7 deaths for women, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
(And speaking as a dude, I can confirm that men are more dangerous behind the wheel. #sorrybutitstrue)
But in the last two years, the statistics have shifted. According to The Zebra, a car insurance comparison site, women are paying more than men for the same car insurance coverage in 25 states.
Perhaps the inconsistent nature of gender as a rating factor is why some states are putting a stop to this practice. California just joined five other states — Hawaii, Massachusetts, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania — in banning the use of gender to set auto insurance rates.
So what does that mean for you? It means that car insurance pricing is changing, so no matter your gender, you should get a new (and free) quote through a site like The Zebra.
What Your Insurance Company Really Cares About
When auto insurance companies are deciding how much money to charge you for coverage, they look at lots of different factors. The big ones include your driving record (watch out for those speeding tickets), your history of filing insurance claims, the value of your vehicle and the amount of coverage you want to buy.
They also look at a bunch of other factors, such as your age, location, education, occupation, marital status, how much you drive and even your credit history, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
In 44 states and in Washington, D.C., they can also consider your gender.
But when California officials examined this practice, they concluded the insurance industry was “inconsistently” weighing gender, officials found.
Some companies were charging men more. Others were charging women more. With some companies, there wasn’t much difference between the genders. With other companies, there was a big difference.
And that’s exactly the point. Different auto insurance companies will assess your driving risk factors in different ways. That’s why it’s important to regularly shop around.
Take 60 Seconds to Find out if You’re Paying Too Much
A smart way to save money on car insurance is to shop and compare rates twice a year.
“Not only can a lot of circumstances in your life and your car (mileage, age) change in that time, but insurance companies may be changing their pricing as well, and you want to be sure you’re getting the right coverage, service and, of course, pricing to suit your changing needs,” says Alyssa Connolly, the director of market insights at The Zebra.
An online car insurance search engine, The Zebra, offers “insurance in black and white.” It compares your options from more than 200 insurance providers in less than 60 seconds.
Just enter information about your car and your coverage needs, and The Zebra shows dozens of side-by-side quotes from top insurance companies for free.
Most consumers really don’t bother to shop around. According to The Zebra’s 2019 State of Auto Insurance Report, car insurance rates keep increasing, with the average American paying nearly $1,500 a year for coverage.
Out of all the states, Michigan, Nevada and Oregon have the biggest difference in rates between the sexes, with the gender gap ranging up to 6%, according to Connolly.
The takeaway? No matter what state you live in — or how you identify — compare rates regularly.
Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He pays for auto insurance on two vehicles.