“Judge me by my driving record, not by what is between my legs,” says Faith Frances.
As a man, she had worked as a truck driver for more than 20 years. Her driving record is perfect. But when she transitioned to female, her auto insurance jumped by over $970 per year.
That’s more than $80 of her monthly grocery budget, and now she says she has to go to the food bank to make up for it.
“I don’t know. What do they think? My breasts get in the way of driving? I don’t know,” said Faith in an interview with WXYZ Detroit.
Frances (not her real name) thought she was being targeted by anti-trans discrimination, so she got in touch with Michigan’s Attorney General Bill Schuette. She received a response from the office of the state Insurance Commissioner. It included this not-so-progressive letter from Progressive:
On March 7, 2018, we received a call from Ms. (redacted), asking that we change her name from (redacted) to (redacted), and change her gender from male to female. (redacted) is right. This change did increase the rate by $80.84. We utilize gender and marital status as factors that, in conjunction with age, determine an individual driver class rating factor, which is used as part of a customer’s rate calculation in our Chapter 24 group rated companies.
Our rates do vary for male and female drivers, based on our collected data statistics and loss history. For some coverages and driver ages, males are charged higher rates, and for other coverages and driver ages, females are charged higher rates. Again, it’s all based on our claims history and our actual methodology for rate determination.
So let’s look at the data.
Men Overwhelmingly Do More Damage With Their Cars
According to a study by the New York Department of Transportation, crashes that kill or seriously injure pedestrians involve male drivers 80 percent of the time.
Data supplied to congress by the federal DOT shows that men caused 53.9 percent of all car crashes in 2007, while women were only responsible for 45.1 percent. Looking at fatal crashes alone, more than three times as many were caused by men than by women.
According to the FBI, 508,633 men were charged with DUIs in 2015, compared to only 167,327 women (that suggests more than three times as many men drive drunk).
And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that men under 34 are more than twice as likely to die in a speeding-related car crash than women under 34.
California DUI lawyers Taylor & Taylor supply still more dramatic numbers: they say 77.6 of DUI arrests in 2010 were male, and that men are more likely than women to be repeat offenders of drunk driving.
Think Men Pay More For Insurance?
There’s a common myth that men pay more for such carelessness. But the statistics show it’s women who are paying the higher insurance rates.
The Consumer Federation of America studied the numbers across ten different cities and found that “40- and 60-year old women with perfect driving records were charged more than men for basic coverage nearly twice as often as men were charged the higher rate.”
They say in many cases women are charged over $100 a year more than men, just for being women. Their report shows Progressive itself charging women 60 percent more than men for the same kinds of coverage.
Nevertheless, when the CFA surveyed over a thousand Americans, more than twice as many still people believed the myth that men pay more for insurance.
Out of the Transphobia Frying Pan, into the Misogyny Fire
Frances’s problem isn’t one just faced by trans women. It’s a problem for women. To her insurers, she says: “You are punishing me for being my true self, and you are punishing the rest of the women in this state for nothing more than we don’t have a penis.”
Progressive’s opaque assertion that their discriminatory rates are “based on our collected data statistics” doesn’t add up, but reflects a widespread issue of misogyny that’s still considered acceptable in the auto insurance industry.