News & Politics

Auto Insurers Jack Up Rates for Widows, Study Finds

Image via Shutterstock.

Widows see an average car insurance rate hike of 20 percent, new research from the Consumer Federation of America finds. GEICO had the highest average increase for widows in the cities CFA studied: 29 percent, on average.

In June, Leslie Milk wrote for Washingtonian about the many administrative hassles she encountered after her husband, Benjamin, died. GEICO raising the cost of her coverage was among them:

The early days were filled with unpleasant surprises. Having realized I had to take charge of my own finances sooner rather than later, I called GEICO to notify it of Benjamin’s death. The company immediately raised my automobile-insurance rate.

I was a greater insurance risk, it was explained to me, than when I was part of a couple sharing one car.

Insurers “say that married people deserve lower rates than others because they tend to drive more responsibly,” CFA reports, but the study they often cite in support of this position “was based on data collected in New Zealand around 1990 involving only 138 injuries, a substantial minority of which involved driving motorcycles,” the group notes.

I asked Milk if she posed any risk, particularly regarding motorcycles. “I had a boyfriend with a motorcycle in Greenwich Village in my youth, but I’ve never even been on a riding lawn mower since,” she says, adding that the greatest risk she tends to face as a driver is “getting out of the Costco parking lot.” But, she says, “I don’t think that puts me at higher risk than married drivers, particularly those who buy so much stuff at Costco that their rear windows are blocked.”

Here’s a CNBC report on the study:

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.