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OMAHA, Neb. (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — A new report suggests that people living in urban minority neighborhoods could be paying as much as 30 percent more for car insurance, but an industry group says the report’s findings are flawed.
Nonprofit investigative news organization ProPublica and Consumer Reports published an analysis Wednesday based on insurance data in Texas, California, Illinois and Missouri detailing insurance claims payments by zip code. Those were the only states where regulators had the data available.
The report says 33 of the 34 insurance companies analyzed in Illinois charged rates that were at least 10 percent higher in zip codes where a majority of the residents are minorities. Six Illinois insurers charged rates 30 percent higher in minority zip codes.
Here in Texas and Missouri, more than half of the insurers charged rates that were at least 10 percent higher in minority areas.
In 2015, Joe Woods, with the Property Casualty Insurers Association, said there were about 80 factors getting built into some companies’ algorithms to determine ones likelihood of future loss. “I know the Texas Department of Insurance is aware of these models and is looking into those models to make sure there is not an unfair discrimination in the rates built into those models,” he said.
In California, where insurers are regulated more tightly, eight companies were charging significantly higher rates in minority zip codes.
Marta Tellado, president and CEO of Consumer Reports, said discriminatory insurance pricing can be a drain on household budgets, limit employment opportunities and limit growth in communities.
“Whether price disparities arise from bad actors or bad algorithms, the consequences are the same, and (Consumer Reports) is committed to ensuring transparency and fairness in pricing for people in all neighborhoods,” Tellado said.
The Insurance Information Institute trade group disputed the report’s findings after hiring an independent expert to review the data it’s based on. The group’s chief actuary, James Lynch, said the analysis in the report doesn’t account for other factors that can affect insurance rates.
“They’ve reached an inappropriate conclusion,” Lynch said.
Insurance companies don’t collect any information on race and ethnicity when they sell policies.
The exact factors used to set rates vary somewhat because of state laws, but Lynch said some common things insurers may look at include: number of miles driven, accident history, credit scores, occupation, gender and age.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)