State of California Rules Gender Cannot Influence Car Insurance Premiums

Good news (for some), only variables that can influence your car insurance premiums are age and driving record.

The California Department of Insurance announced Thursday that it no longer permits the use of gender as a variable in the calculation of car insurance premiums.

“My priority as Insurance Commissioner is to protect all California consumers, and these regulations ensure that auto insurance rates are based on factors within a driver’s control, rather than personal characteristics over which drivers have no control,” stated California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones in a department release.

Commissioner Jones has previously tackled gender-imbalanced insurance rates, writing legislation to even the health insurance premiums for Californian men and women in 2009, prior to Washington D.C. establishing this as a nationwide standard with the Affordable Care Act. His new mandate of even car insurance rates for men and women was lauded by consumer advocacy group Consumer Watchdog.

“Gender and sex have no more place in what we pay for auto insurance than race or ethnicity do,” stated executive director Carmen Balber. “These new rules will finally end gender-based discrimination in auto insurance pricing in California.”

In much of the world, a driver’s gender is taken into account when calculating their rate for car insurance. According to Insurance Quotes, data gathered by insurers across decades has found that men are more likely to file a claim than women, increasing their insurance premiums. As a result, single 20-year-old men tend to pay around 23 percent more than what a woman of the same age with a comparable driving record would pay, though by age 25, the gap narrows to just four percent. Between the ages of 30 and 60, the trend reverses, and men pay marginally less for insurance than women, but beyond that age, men once again pay more. On at least one occasion, a driver has legally changed their gender to pay less for their insurance.

A likely result of this legislation is that young Californian men will find themselves paying less for insurance, while women will make up the difference by paying more. Those beyond the age of 25 will likely not see a meaningful change to their car insurance premiums, though according to NBC San Diego, the ruling may not take effect for drivers until July 1.

Insurers are required by that date to have filed new class plans to outline how they determine insurance rates based on the permissible variables, of which gender will no longer be a part. Some consumers hope this variable will be replaced, and that car insurance companies will take modern safety technologies into account—studies have found that they are saving lives, so insurance companies don’t have many excuses not to slash premiums.