BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – Single women should pay higher auto insurance rates than married women, Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon told reporters at the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday.
“The truth is that single women pay higher premiums than married women because of actuarial data that’s used in every of the 50 states,” Donelon said. He said he is generally for using gender to determine insurance rates as long as the data is backed by accident-related statistics.
Ahead of the March legislative session, state lawmakers have filed a number of bills that aim to lower Louisiana’s auto insurance rates, the nation’s second highest.
A bill by Sen. Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria, seeks to ban the so-called “widow’s penalty,” where a driver’s rates are hiked after she becomes single because her spouse dies. Donelon said the penalty does not exist in the way it is represented.
“It’s not a widow’s penalty,” he said. “It’s a single-woman, higher charge than a married woman.”
Donelon said he assumes that single men have higher rates than married men, also, but he could not say with certainty.
“Donelon not only admitted that insurance companies use gender to charge people more regardless of their driving record, he endorsed it,” Real Reform Louisiana executive director Eric Holl said in a statement. His group is backing a series of insurance policy changes, including Luneau’s bill, that are fundamentally different from the “tort reform” bills Donelon has backed.
“Women are not worse drivers than men, but Commissioner Donelon thinks insurance companies should be able to charge them more if it makes the insurance company more money,” Holl said.
Last year, 71 percent of people who died in car accidents were men, according to federal data. The same data shows men cause more accidents than women and that men are more likely to be ticketed, including for DWI.
But men drive around 6,000 miles more each year than women. Insurance companies have argued that, proportionately adjusted for the frequency at which they drive, women are more likely to cause accidents.
Data regarding marital status and its correlation to car accidents is harder to find, though some studies indicate a married person is half as likely to be in an accident as a single person.
The 2020 Regular Legislative session begins March 9.