A study released last week shows that male drivers in the state of Texas pay more than women for their auto insurance two-thirds of the time, and the average premium is 14 percent higher for men.
The story accompanying the survey called it “a nationwide trend of insurers charging higher prices to men because of their increased risk of filing a claim.”
But it’s important to know that this male driver “surcharge” does not uniformly apply everywhere, most especially in Westchester County and the surrounding area.
In my practice, we find that most of the male drivers who buy their coverage in our local communities pay rates very comparable to female drivers. The reason is that male drivers around here tend to be safe drivers – many are mature individuals with families — and are probably driving safer cars and on safer roads.
Federal data, according to the story, says that male drivers nationwide have a 1 in 19 chance of being in an auto accident, while with female drivers it’s just 1 in 25.5. Insurance, however, takes into account the local experience, and does not rely on national data as its sole rationale for pricing a policy.
The reasons Texas men may pay more could include that their vehicles are used on rougher terrain – perhaps on a ranch or in energy-related occupations – are driven off-road, longer distances to work, and many other variables. Age figures into the equation, with male drivers under 30 (and especially 25 and below) paying a significant surcharge. Creditworthiness does, too. The average credit score in Texas in December 2011 was 670, 29 points less than the New York average of 699, and certainly far less than the affluent area and includes Westchester, Fairfield and other well-to-do counties.
You’ll recall the recently news stories about a Texas road where the speed limit was recently raised to 85 miles per hour. Speed is a recognized factor in contributing to accidents, and you can bet insurance companies are figuring that in when rating the auto policies they issue in the region.
Pricing is a very detailed calculation in auto insurance, with criteria such as age, driving record, family status, type of car, education, employment and credit history figuring into the mix. (By the way, the general wisdom that you’ll pay a higher premium for a red car than a gray car is an old wives’ tale. It just isn’t so.) Driving an old rust-bucket without airbags or other modern safety systems can also play a big role.
Studies have documented a “gender gap” in the pricing of many auto policies, and they point to reasons such as the tendency of men to drive about 1.5 times as much as women, and to take more risks – like maybe doing 95 in that 85 MPH zone in Texas.
That we don’t see much of a gender gap around here is a big positive for local drivers of both sexes. We take it to mean that our roads are safer and our drivers are safer, and that is surely what we want for everyone who gets into a motor vehicle at any time and for whatever reason in this lovely region we call home.
Here are some additional tips when searching for car insurance – click on the picture to watch the video:
Written By Ronald Binday