Photo by Viktor Bystrov on Unsplash

There is little question that the sponsors of Senate Bill 169 have good intentions, seeking to protect consumers from unfair discrimination in insurance ratings.  But SB 169 is unnecessary, overly broad, and would create far-reaching consequences. 

In fact, we believe the measure would likely result in arbitrary increases in insurance rates on good drivers and professionals with a track record of safe driving like us – teachers, firefighters and nurses.

Lindsey Givens, Brent Deterding and Helmut Krull

SB 169 would give sweeping, subjective powers to an unelected insurance commissioner to raise rates on drivers proven to be a lower risk. In fact, under this bill, the unelected insurance commissioner would have the authority to throw out mathematically reliable systems that reduce auto rates for tens of thousands of Coloradans. 

It is unclear what standard, besides the commissioner’s discretion, would be used to determine those rates as the legislation does not specify whether the commissioner even needs to consider whether underwriting and rating factors accurately predict future loss.

To be clear, we oppose discrimination of protected classes by insurers, which is why we are glad there is a Colorado law on the books that already prohibits unfair discrimination in insurance pricing. 

Furthermore, the insurance commissioner already has the right to deny insurance rating factors if they are found to be unfairly discriminatory. Additionally, the commissioner already has the authority to audit an insurer at will. So it is unclear why SB 169 is even needed.

This bill is not only duplicative but may also do more harm to consumers than help them. Risk factors are proven to have a direct correlation to the risk of accidents and filing a claim. 

Data shows that teenage, female drivers, for instance, drive more safely and are less likely to be in a car accident than their male counterparts.  As a result, their rates may be a bit lower based on their gender. If age and gender are no longer considered a risk factor, insurance rates could increase for these women.

In fact, if the insurance commissioner is allowed to deny rating factors based on education, occupation or credit, it would hit teachers, firefighters and others in professions considered to employ low-risk individuals, according to insurance industry data.

Under this bill, according to data insurer Geico submitted to the legislature, 73% of teachers would see an average premium increase of 30%, or $528 annually – a sizable increase when the average Colorado teacher makes $58,219 a year, according to the state education department. More than 61% of firefighters would see an average premium increase of 18% or $359 annually.  Police officers? Almost half of them would see an average increase of 20%, or $425 annually. Additionally, 42% of nurses would see an average premium increase of 18%, or $330 annually.

In a year where teachers taught from home, firefighters suited up to fight wildfires across the state and nurses were on the front lines battling the pandemic every single day, the last thing Colorado’s teachers, firefighters and nurses deserve is a hike in their insurance premiums.

We ask the legislature to reject SB 169.

Lindsey Givens of Aurora is a teacher. Brent Deterding of Wray is a firefighter. Helmut Krull of Centennial is a registered nurse.

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