The sign said, “Long-haired freaky people need not apply”

So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why

He said, “You look like a fine, upstanding young man, I think you’ll do”
So I took off my hat; I said, “Imagine that!  Huh—me working for you!”

Men's room sign Seventies protest ballads aside, there are times when discrimination on the basis of appearance (or factors that tend to affect appearance) is legally sanctioned, even when those factors are beyond a person’s control.  Men and women are assigned to gender-specific restrooms in almost all public areas, some schools try to promote a racially diverse campus by setting quotas for minorities, and airline stewardesses are often restricted to a certain height range.  Generally, there are practical reasons for these distinctions; this is definitely the case when it comes to auto insurance rates.  While their generalizations do not, of course, apply to everyone, insurance companies are legally allowed to discriminate based on the factors listed below:

1. Age

Fair or unfair, the actions of a person’s peer group affect the price they will pay for auto insurance to some extent.  Because teenage drivers are 10 times more likely to be involved in a car accident within their first year driving, because they are more likely than a drunk driver to crash with even one passenger, and because the teenage brain is still developmentally immature, insurance rates for teenagers are higher than those for older, more experienced drivers.

2. Gender

While many driving behaviors are not gender-specific, teenage male drivers are twice as likely as their female counterparts to be involved in a fatal accident.  While the gender gap closes eventually, this closing generally takes place in the 60-69 years range.  The recklessness that contributes to these accidents has been noted by insurers, who accordingly adjust insurance rates differently depending on gender.

3. Marital Status

Insurance discounts for getting married are similar to discounts offered on multiple cars/drivers—two adults living together are likely to have multiple cars or to switch between vehicles.  In addition, however, married people are also more likely to drive safely than are single people.

4. Location/Driving Distance

Just as a gumball in a quarter machine has a 100% chance of hitting other gumballs on its way through the chute, drivers in urban areas have higher chances of hitting other cars at some point than do drivers in more sparsely-populated areas.  Likewise, the distance driven annually can influence what it will cost to insure a vehicle.

5. Vehicle Type

As anyone who has heard of a Ford Pinto knows, not all cars are created equal.  Cars that do not hold up well in crash tests or that tend to be popular with reckless drivers will probably cost more to insure than less slightly, but dependable vehicles that sell well to the soccer mom demographic.

6. Occupation

This criterion may seem rather arbitrary; but in fact, workers in medicine, law, and real estate are involved in accidents more often than are homemakers and workers in public service like politicians and firefighters.

7. Driving Record

Not surprisingly, traffic citations and tickets correspond with higher insurance rates.  While it may be argued that citations and tickets are not always assigned fairly, this is probably the most fair criterion on the list.  You have no control over your age and biology and probably don’t take auto insurance into account when choosing whether to get married or what job to take, but safe driving is in your control.

Unfortunately, you cannot always determine whether or not you are involved in a car accident.  While responsible driving makes you statistically safer, you cannot guarantee that someone else won’t defy the statistics.  However, when someone else’s endangering behavior leads to an injury, adequate compensation should not be outside your control.

For more information on working with insurance companies and others with whom you must settle for injury compensation, call car accident attorneys Christensen & Hymas at (801) 506-0800.  Insurance fees and other circumstances may be unfair, but with the help of Christensen & Hymas, your recovery doesn’t have to be.

Image courtesy of Jeff Noble