Insurance and Actuarial Tables

The six-month price for our car insurance renewal went up. Again … which strikes me as odd since the car is older and its value has diminished. With the risks being similar – same drivers, same credit, same very small amount of driving – that coverage should go down year-to-year as the insurance company will be paying out a little less if the car gets destroyed. But, no, the price sneaks up every six months. And now they want 354$ (really 321$ because we don’t do installment billing).

I usually just renew the policy, but this year I decided to get quotes from a few other companies. I was wondering if “churn” (losing customers — basically the idea that there’s a fixed cost to acquire a customer, so the longer they stay with you … the more profitable the relationship becomes) just isn’t a concern in the insurance industry. So I got a few quotes — all of which were about half of what we’re paying. The best price was GEICO at 155$. For increased coverage, since one of our coverage selections was available only with a higher payout limit. That was puzzling since I cannot imagine the actuarial algorithms are that different between companies. And both Progressive and GEICO are paying for a LOT of advertising.

For convenience, I used my SSN to get the quotes and added Scott as the other driver. I wondered how this change would impact the price from Progressive. Now, logically — the risk calculation for Scott and I driving 2500 miles a year in this area with a car with a specific set of safety features and parked in our garage is the same as the risk calculation for I and Scott driving 2500 miles a year in this area with a car with a specific set of safety features and parked in our garage. Yes, I expect a slight difference based on our differing credit scores. But our scores are not that different (and when we bought the house, Scott has the slightly higher score). Got the quote back, and Progressive was willing to sell us a policy for just over half our current cost: 170$. Based simply on switching the account holder and ‘other driver’ people.

They will absolutely deny that it’s because men are charged more for insurance. There’s a lawsuit in there otherwise! But, realistically, there’s nothing that changes by swapping the two names which would impact the price so significantly. And this has been happening for the past six or seven years since we got married and bought joint insurance! That’s like two grand we’ve forked over to Progressive because they put Scott’s name down first!?!

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