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Women May Benefit from New Insurance Rules

Car insurance premiums for women and senior citizens in Texas may soon decrease as the state legislature recently passed a bill allowing insurance companies to sell coverage by the mile. Under the new rules, drivers would purchase insurance for a certain number of miles. When those miles are reached, the plan would expire and need renewal. Premiums would be based on the amount of miles requested, with fewer miles generating lower payments. The National Organization for Women (NOW), under the leadership if Patrick Butler, the NOW Insurance Project Director, has supported this idea for decades, as it would allow “women, older people, and other low-income groups “to control spending for auto insurance the same way they can now economize on gasoline.”

Notably, no insurance company in Texas has signed on to the new rules. Texas Insurance Commissioner Jose Montemayor is hoping that insurance companies will sell the per mile coverage as it may also decrease the number of uninsured motorists. For years, though, insurance companies have used sex as a factor in setting premiums. Companies maintained that this system was more favorable to women. However, women, senior citizens, and low-income groups drive considerably less than men as a group. Under rules in which premiums would be determined by miles, these groups could pay less, in proportion to the miles they drive, an income loss for insurance companies and an incentive for these companies to maintain sex discrimination. Significantly, during the NOW campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the 1970s, insurance companies opposed the ERA.

Sources:

Dallas Morning News, 1/24/02; Feminist Majority Foundation