Black communities pay more for car insurance than white communities, study says

Coleen Sullivan Image
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Black communities pay more for car insurance than white communities, report finds
An investigation by Consumer Reports and ProPublica found that African American communities pay more for auto insurance than white neighborhoods.

VIEW PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Pernell Cox lives in the affluent, predominantly African American neighborhood of View Park in Los Angeles.

Yet a Consumer Reports and ProPublica investigation found that a safe driver in View Park pays 13 percent more on average than one who lives in a white neighborhood of comparable risk.

"Learning that our community might be targeted for higher insurance rates than the risk is a reason for people to be angry," Cox said.

And the price disparity based on ZIP codes is not just happening in California. Three other states - Missouri, Texas and Illinois - also provided data used in the investigation.

Otis Nash has lived in the mostly African American neighborhood of East Garfield Park in Chicago for his entire life.

"I feel like it's pretty much like anywhere else. You get some traffic in the morning, but that's anywhere because you have people going to school and going to work," Nash explained.

Nash is rated a good driver and pays almost $200 a month for his Geico auto insurance policy.

Christopher Day, who is also rated a good driver and lives 14-miles away in the mostly white neighborhood of Andersonville in Chicago, pays around $115 a month for a Geico policy with more coverage for liability, but less for comprehensive and collision.

"We looked at 34 different insurers in Illinois, and 33 of them had, on average, a difference between minority and non-minority neighborhoods of higher than 10-percent," said Julia Angwin, a senior reporter with ProPublica.

The Illinois Department of Insurance called the methodology "incomplete" and said it "does not tolerate discrimination."

And the California Department of Insurance criticized the approach by Consumer Reports and ProPublica. Liberty Mutual, the parent company of Safeco, says it was "committed to competitively priced car insurance options."

Geico did not comment.

Nash said he hopes rates become fairer, but for now, Geico was among the cheaper insurance companies he could find in Chicago.

But Cox shopped around in Los Angeles and found a $400 annual savings with a different insurer.

To see the full investigation and to look up your premium versus similar zip codes, click here.