Are Minorities Charged More?

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State regulators want to know if some car insurance companies are charging minority customers higher rates even if they have good driving records.

Geico, AIG and Liberty Mutual appeared at a public hearing in Tallahassee Friday to defend the practice of using education levels and occupation among other factors to set rates.

State regulators argued they don’t understand why a mechanic with no high school diploma might be charged 300 percent more than an engineer with a PhD and an identical driving record.

Kevin McCarty is Florida’s Insurance Commissioner. “People working the jobs that are critical to our economy like auto mechanics, like maintenance engineers, they’re probably going to be perplexed that they’re paying three times as much as somebody with what its considered to be a professional class. It may be correlated to losses, but it doesn’t sound fair.”

Geico denies it discriminates in any way against its customers. Geico Vice President Hank Nayden says Geico covers nearly a million motorists of all education and income levels in Florida.

Nonetheless, the Office of Insurance Regulation is expected to recommend changes in a report on Friday’s hearing to the Governor and legislative leaders.