NEW YORK (TheStreet) — A 20-year-old married male pays 21% less on average for car insurance than a 20-year-old single male, but 22% more than what a 20-year-old married female spends for the same coverage.
But don't worry, he'll get a better rate than the married female does when they both turn 30 — until, of course, they reach 56, at which point she'll enjoy lower premiums again.
It's all part of the complicated way that auto insurers factor in age, gender and other data when calculating how much you have to pay for coverage.
"People are shocked when they find out how many variables go into car-insurance rates. Where you live, whether you're married — all of that impacts what they charge," says Laura Adams of InsuranceQuotes.com, which recently analyzed how different factors affect premiums.
Carriers have long used a wide variety of data beyond just driving record or claims history to set rates. Firms generally look at everything from age to credit score, unless you live in a state where insurance rules ban the use of a given factor.
The industry maintains that its statistical analysis accurately predicts how much you're likely to cost your carrier in claims — and therefore what your premiums should be.
"These underwriting criteria have been tested for almost a century now and have been demonstrated to [work]," says Robert Hartwig of the Insurance Information Institute, an industry trade group.
For instance, he says, male teenage drivers have far more accidents and higher claims than female ones, so charging guys higher rates means keeping prices lower for the ladies.