Study finds wealthy drivers with violations pay less for coverage

It is commonly recognized that if you are convicted of a traffic violation in New York, you can expect to see a rise in your car insurance premiums. The serious offense of driving under influence may cause a steep hike in rates, while other offenses like speeding tickets and failure to yield may result in a yearly increase of a few hundred dollars, according to NerdWallet.

However, a recent study is causing controversy after it found that drivers with higher incomes are not penalized as heavily by insurance companies for traffic violations as those on the lower end of the income scale, reports USA Today. The study requested quotes for two hypothetical customers who were the same age, same sex, drove a similar car and had similar driving habits. One was unmarried, not college educated, did not own a home and had previously been insured. The other was a married, home owning bank executive.

It was found that 70 percent of insurers charged a higher-income driver who had been convicted of DUI less than the lower-income driver with no blemishes on his or her record. In addition, in circumstances where the higher-income driver had been involved in an accident that caused another person to be injured and the moderate-income driver’s record was clean, the higher-income driver was charged less in 20 out of 38 rate comparisons.

Some representatives of the insurance industry take issue with the results of the study, which looked at rates offered by five different insurers in 10 cities. Companies do not consider income, they argue, but how great a risk a driver poses when deciding on what rates to charge. Therefore, regardless of their socio-economic status, New Yorkers who are shopping for car insurance and are worried about infractions on their record may be wise to get quotes from multiple companies before purchasing a policy.