It can be tough to figure out why insurance companies charge some more than others for auto coverage. But a recent analysis by the Consumer Federation of America suggests that a driver's neighborhood could be a factor.
The analysis, released Monday, found that good drivers in lower-income areas are charged $410 more on average than good drivers in higher-income areas — and Tampa is no exception.
According to the analysis, there is an 18 percent difference on average in auto premiums for Tampa drivers depending on the average income of an area.
Drivers in the south Tampa ZIP code 33602, for example, pay an average premium of $3,147. Residents there have an average income of $71,500 and are 61 percent white.
But just a short drive away in the Ybor City area, drivers in ZIP code 33605 pay an average premium of $3,423 — about 9 percent more. That area, the consumer group said, is just 16 percent white with an average income of about $26,500.
One of the issues with linking premiums to specific neighborhoods, the federation said, is that it could unfairly punish motorists based on their socioeconomic status and race. The analysis found that areas with lower premiums are, on average, 72 percent white, while higher-premium areas are overwhelmingly populated by people of color.
"When we look at the many ways in which lower- and moderate-income Americans are targeted with higher prices for the same product as their higher-income neighbors, we have to rethink the state enforced rules governing the pricing of state-mandated auto insurance," said Bob Hunter, the federation's director of insurance.
Contact Malena Carollo at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.