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Cuomo plan would ban job status, education for auto insurance rates

ALBANY — Auto insurance companies would no longer be allowed to charge higher premiums because of a policy holder’s job status or education level under a proposed regulation announced Tuesday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The proposal comes after a state Department of Financial Services investigation into the high cost of auto insurance in New York, traditionally one of the county’s most expensive states to insure a vehicle.

“This new protection cracks down on this unfair practice that soaks drivers for not having a college degree or a high-paying job,” Cuomo said. “These metrics are discriminatory, have no relationship to how good a driver you are and should not be used as an excuse to overcharge New Yorkers.”

Insurance companies could still charge customers more if they have no job or a low-paying job, or little education, but the companies would have to prove that using those factors doesn’t result in unfair rates.

The New York Insurance Association defended the practice, saying job status and education level have proved to to be “correlated with risk.”

“Limiting underwriting factors can penalize drivers and drive up the cost of insurance for everyone,” said association President Ellen Melcionni in a statement.

A consumer protection group supports the proposal.

“Auto insurance rates should be based on how you drive, not who you are,” said Russ Haven, NYPIRG General Counsel. “With these regulations, New York is taking an important step to protect many low- and moderate-income New Yorkers from discrimination when purchasing auto insurance.”

Public comments on the proposal will be collected by the state for 45 days. If approved by the state Department of Financial Services, the provision could be effective six months later.

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