Understanding Insurance Anti-Discrimination Laws
80 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2012 Last revised: 24 Jul 2019
Date Written: August 24, 2012
Insurance companies are in the business of discrimination. Insurers attempt to segregate insureds into separate risk pools based on their differences in risk profiles, first, so that they can charge different premiums to the different groups based on their risk and, second, to incentivize risk reduction by insureds. This is why we let insurers discriminate. There are, however, limits to the types of discrimination we will allow insurers to engage in. But what exactly are those limits and how are they justified? To answer these questions, this Article articulates the leading fairness and efficiency arguments for and against limiting insurers’ ability to discriminate in their underwriting; identifies on this basis a set of predictions as to what one would expect state antidiscrimination laws to look like; and evaluates some of those predictions against a unique handcollected dataset consisting of the laws regulating insurer risk classification in all 51 U.S. jurisdictions. Among our findings is that contrary to the conventional wisdom state insurance anti-discrimination laws vary a great deal, in substance and in the intensity of regulation, across lines of insurance, across policyholder characteristics, and across states. The Article also finds that, contrary to our predictions, a surprising number of jurisdictions do not have any laws restricting insurers’ ability to discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, or religion. It concludes by discussing whether this fact indicates that states have inadequately policed unfair discrimination in insurance or impacts the larger policy decision in this country to leave insurance anti-discrimination law to the states.
Keywords: Civil Rights and Discrimination, Economics, Insurance Law, Law and Economics
JEL Classification: K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation