Thursday, January 19, 2006

males and unmarried females

First of all, please tell me, on what planet does it make sense that it should cost more to insure one car than to insure two? I recently sold one of my two cars and when I called my insurance company to remove the sold car from my policy, I was told that my premium would increase by about $80 per year. Yes, I understand the concept of a multi-car discount, but it just seems like some really flawed logic is involved here.

But what I really want to talk about is this. It's State Farm's definition of their "good student" auto policy discount, which I happened to read while getting a quote on their website. It begins, "All males and unmarried females with less than 9 years of driving experience..." [outraged emphasis added] At first I thought they meant "unmarried males and females." But wouldn't they just say "unmarried individuals"? Plus, the same phrase is repeated a few sentences later. I also assume that this wording has been inspected with electron microscopes by throngs of uptight tie-tacked lawyers. So this has to be what they actually mean to say.

Obviously my question is, why do married men qualify for the good student discount while married women do not? I can't come up with a single plausible explanation for this. Not even an implausible one, actually. I'm pretty sensitive to gender discrimination issues, and it seems like there's got to be some kind of discrimination going on here, but I can't even figure out what the discriminatory logic would be for this. On the other hand, insurance companies are required to file their rates and discounts with a state's Department of Insurance in order to be "admitted," and the state DOI supposedly examines the information they submit very carefully -- so presumably State Farm was able to justify this qualification to the California DOI in some way. I've sent State Farm a message asking them to clarify, because I'm just that baffled. I don't expect an actual answer, but we'll see.

For shits and giggles, I looked at a few other insurance carriers' websites, and the only other place that mentioned marital status in conjunction with a good driver discount appeared to be saying that anyone, male or female, would have to be unmarried in order to qualify. So... I guess my conclusion here is, State Farm is on crack.

UPDATE: It's bizarro world and State Farm is definitely on crack! I got a call the next day from an Autumn at State Farm, who explained to me that according to their actuarial data, married women have fewer accidents than unmarried women, single men, and married men do; and therefore married women are already getting a discount to their rates, so they don't qualify for the additional discount. This still doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but I'm so shocked that someone actually called me back about this (and what's more, had a conversation with me without trying to sell me insurance!) that I'm willing to overlook it for now.

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