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Auto insurance required, but not fair pricing

| February 15, 2019 3:00 AM

State law requires auto insurance, but not fair policy pricing.

Companies evaluate personal lives, not just driving records. Using different factors, each chooses who pays more.

Safe drivers — no DUI’s, accidents, or tickets — who bikeride, pay $500 more annually for coverage lapses. That’s what I found through Progressive. DUI’s increased payments $36 annually. Are people who lapse more dangerous than drivers under the influence? It’s not just cyclists; returning servicemembers, people whose car broke down, and drivers who can’t afford payments also pay more.

Perfect drivers’ occupation and education level impact payments. Geico charges cashiers with high-school diplomas $300/year more than investment bankers with bachelor’s degrees. Are there special driving classes for investment bankers? Teachers with bachelor’s pay less than cashiers, but more than bankers.

Some companies slap massive surcharges for not having excellent credit. Consumer Reports noted that average Montanans with clean driving records and “excellent” credit pay $903/year but $1,157 if merely “good.” “Poor” credit costs $2,589 per year, with no difference in driving record.

By law, we need auto insurance. Our state’s lawmakers along with Montana’s insurance commissioner should insist policy prices are based on how we drive, not who companies think we are.

— Katie Sutton, Billings