Mass. Insurance Commissioner Plan Would Allow Discrimination in Sale of Auto Insurance

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10 Consumer Groups Send Letter Denouncing Plan to Commissioner Burnes, Governor Patrick

Massachusetts drivers will be unfairly denied auto insurance unless the state continues its long-standing ban on unfair and discriminatory insurance practices, said the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) today in a letter sent by 10 consumer, civil rights and low-income advocacy groups to Governor Deval Patrick and the Massachusetts Commissioner of Insurance.

The letter was sent in response to a plan issued last month by Massachusetts Commissioner of Insurance Nonnie Burnes that would allow insurers to use discriminatory factors like education, occupation and credit score to deny a driver auto insurance. The state must maintain its emphasis on driving record for issuing insurance, urged the groups.

“No one with a good driving record should be denied insurance because they have the wrong job or a low credit score. But insurers use these seemingly irrelevant factors as a proxy for race and income. The commissioner must ban discrimination in the sale of auto insurance, not just when setting prices,” said Carmen Balber, consumer advocate with FTCR.

Burnes’ plan would ban discriminatory factors for insurance rate-setting, but allow insurers to deny coverage altogether on the basis of factors that could include: credit scores, occupation, level of education, grades in school, prior liability limits, amount of coverage purchased, whether the car was new or used when purchased, home ownership, and marital status.

The groups include: Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, Center for Economic Justice, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law of the Boston Bar Association, MASSPIRG, Center for Insurance Research, Consumer Federation of America, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Massachusetts Consumers’ Coalition, Consumer Assistance Council of Cape Cod, and the National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients).

Read the letter.

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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