California makes it illegal to charge more for car insurance based on gender

This legislation follows in the footsteps of similar laws put on the books in the state for health care a decade ago.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
2 min read
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Businesswoman driving a car

California auto insurance companies are no longer allowed to use gender as a factor in determining premiums.

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Gender inequality is an incredibly pervasive problem all across the world and affects people in more ways than most of us realize. I, for example, wasn't aware that a person's stated gender would affect the price of their car insurance, but the good news is that as of Jan. 1, 2019, in California, that's no longer the case.

California's Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones issued a statement on Friday that as part of the Gender Non-Discrimination in Automobile Insurance Rating Regulation, insurers would no longer be allowed to use gender to calculate private auto insurance.
"My priority as Insurance Commissioner is to protect all California consumers, and these regulations ensure that auto insurance rates are based on factors within a driver's control, rather than personal characteristics over which drivers have no control," Jones said.

According to a report by the car insurance search engine The Zebra, the gap in price between men and women hasn't been huge -- the national average is around 1 percent -- and typically it's seen men pay more. That trend reversed itself in 2017, and now we see women in most states paying a higher premium.

"Gender is one of many factors people consider unfair to be used in pricing car insurance rates because it doesn't have to do with how someone drives," said Alyssa Connolly, Director of Market Insights for The Zebra, in a statement. "California is already one of a handful of states that have prohibited the use of similar nondriving factors like credit, level of education or whether someone owns or rents their home." 

So while removing gender as a factor in car insurance pricing is pretty far from something like equal pay for equal work, it's still a step in the right direction.

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