Rep. Stinziano Calls for Investigation of 'Widow Tax' in Auto Insurance Pricing

COLUMBUS – Representative Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus) is calling for an immediate investigation into the use of marital status in pricing auto insurance in Ohio.

In a letter to Mary Taylor, Lieutenant Governor and Director of the Ohio Department of Insurance, Stinziano, a member of the House Insurance Committee said that, “the Consumer Federation of America’s recent study reporting that four of six major auto insurance companies increased rates on state-mandated liability rates for widows by an average of 20 percent raises serious questions about whether using marital status to price auto insurance violates provisions of the Ohio Revised Code that ‘insurance rates shall not be excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory."

“The use of marital status and non-driving factors to rate auto insurance is plain wrong and should not be permitted in Ohio or anywhere else as far as I’m concerned,” Stinziano said.

The Consumer Federation study reported pricing as much as 34 percent higher for widows than for women with otherwise similar profiles.

“Discriminating against single, separated, divorced, or widowed drivers with otherwise similar profiles is unfair and likely violates the Insurance Department’s Price Optimization Bulletin issued earlier this year,” Stinziano added.

According to Bulletin 2015-01, “While price optimization has no absolute definition, it generally refers to an insurer’s practice of varying premiums based upon factors that are unrelated to risk of loss in order to charge each insured the highest price that the market will bear.”

“Ohio has been a leader in prohibiting price optimization in insurance rates,” Stinziano said. “Let’s take a closer look at how non-driving factors like marital status raise rates for single women in Ohio and move quickly to end this discriminatory practice wherever it is found.”