A trans woman in Michigan got an unexpected if not unkind affirmation of her gender from her car insurer: Her rates rose after she transitioned this spring.
The Michigan Insurance Commissioner’s office fielded a complaint that a transgender woman saw her monthly rate go up by $80.84, increasing her annual rate by nearly $1,000.
WXYZ Detroit, which first broke the story, reports that Faith Francis (a pseudonym to protect her privacy) thought she was the victim of anti-transgender discrimination. In fact, Progressive Marathon Insurance Company has higher rates for all women.
Francis saw her rate jump in March, by $970.08. In a letter published by WXYZ and verified by the Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office, Progressive explains to Francis that, “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.”
Francis told the station that the rate increase makes her feel punished for being her true self.
“I don’t know. What do they think? My breasts get in the way of driving? I don’t know,” she told the station.
Popular belief is that men pay more for auto insurance. Studies show crash fatality rates are higher for men, but a study from the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) last year, found that middle-aged women with almost perfect driving records paid twice as much for coverage as their male counterparts.
CFA found that Progressive charged women 60 percent more for the same coverage.
A Progressive spokesperson did not respond to a request to comment.
Andrea Bitely, a spokesperson for Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, told INTO via email that her office was made aware of the complaint, which is being handled by the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services. But Bitely said the issue is part of a larger systemic problem of inflated insurance rates in the state.
“It’s driving people away, it’s keeping businesses from wanting to locate here, it’s slowing the growth that we have had over the last eight years,” said Bitely. “It’s not just a problem in Detroit, it’s a problem in Lansing, it’s a problem in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Iron Mountain and in every small town in our state. It’s time to tackle this problem head-on: it’s time for the legislature to act.”
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