Auto Insurance Should be Allowed to Discriminate Against Women, Widows, Insurance Commissioner Says

Louisiana Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon. Courtesy of the Louisiana Department of Insurance.

On May 12, 2020, at the Louisiana State Legislature, Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon boldly stated that automobile insurance companies should be able to charge women higher rates.

“Racial discrimination is unfair discrimination,” he said, “gender discrimination is fair discrimination.”

According to ReportNOLA, Commissioner Donelon made these statements as the Legislature proposed several bills to lower the cost of car insurance in Louisiana, which is one of the highest in the nation. 

This was not the first time Donelon argued in favor of discriminating on the basis of gender. 

In February 2020, a reporter from the Baton Rouge Business Report asked Donelon if he agrees with “institutionalized gender discrimination” in setting insurance rates. 

“Yes, I do,” he replied. “I am for gender as a rate-setting factor.”

Donelon has also argued that women should be charged higher rates after their spouses die.

“The truth is that single women pay higher premiums than married women,” he said, but he didn’t know if that applied to single men.

According to a California study, the so-called “widow penalty” can increase insurance rates up to 226 percent – simply because the insured is no longer married. 

But Commissioner Donelon, who campaigned in favor of abolishing the penalty during re-election, appears to have had a change of heart.

According to the Bayou Brief, Commissioner Donelon received “no less than a half-million dollars and potentially more than one million in campaign funds from the companies and agents of the insurance industry he regulates.”

“We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that our insurers are charging people more for auto liability insurance because they are poor, because they are widows, because they are blue-collar,” Governor John Bel Edwards said. 

But in Commissioner Donelon’s world, there is nothing wrong with that.

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