Leveling the landscape of how auto insurance policies are priced out. That's the aim of new legislation recently introduced in the Delaware General Assembly.
The measure, classified as House Bill 80, would establish a set of rating factors for determining premiums related to automobile insurance policies.
"I think there is an awful amount of unfairness in how auto insurance r ates are derived," admitted the bill's author, State Representative Trey Paradee (D-Dover West). "In particular, I think that elderly people and people who have gone through a financial hardship in life, unfortunately, are really the people who are being treated most unfairly today by the auto insurance companies."
Instead of potentially negative factors affecting someone's rate, such as their credit score, the legislation would instead seek to institute more appropriate, and consistent, metrics for making that determination.
"The bill does allow for quite a bit of leeway for the insurance companies to base their rates upon the experience of the driver," explained Rep. Paradee. "So young drivers, who are still getting their licenses, are still going to pay higher rates than somebody who has more experience. They're also able to take into account such factors as the type of car [and] the number of miles anticipated to be driven with the car."
Most important, the proposed bill would use a given driver's at-fault accident history and safety record as a primary determinant.
"So somebody who is putting a lot of miles on the car, who collects a lot of speeding tickets, [or] who gets in the occasional accident, they're going to pay higher rates than people who are obeying the rules of the road and who aren't getting into trouble."
Rep. Paradee illustrated how the current pricing factors lead to a form of discrimination.
"In terms of the elderly, someone like my father, just because he turned 75 doesn't mean he instantaneously became a bad driver. In fact, the statistics show that senior citizens tend to have lower incidences of accidents simply because they drive fewer miles. They're not going to and from work, [or] taking the kids to soccer practice. They're not on the roads as much, and yet, even when that car is parked in the garage---or out on the street---they're still paying car insurance on it, oftentimes at higher rates than someone in their 30s or 40s."
Though the bill has been receiving bipartisan support, the issue is still poised for a fight. Rep. Paradee acknowledged that it's the insurance companies that have readied themselves with lobbyists to try and limit the legislation's goal of uniformity.
Even so, the issue, which Delaware Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro ran on during his 2016 campaign, has gained the attention and support of Rep. Paradee and like-minded lawmakers.
"[We] want to support senior citizens and stand up for people who have fallen on hard times. And that's really what this bill is. It is an anti-discrimination bill that is essentially saying that people who obey the rules of the road, and who do everything properly, should pay lower rates."