Ever since getting my driver license in May 1988, I have been driving accident-free. My sole moving violation has been a ticket for going 70 in a 65 zone. So I'm a tame driver, a low risk to the company that insures my car. US insurance companies, alas, won't see it that way. They refuse to consider the lion's share of my driving record and keep charging me like a beginner. Is that discrimination?
Let me explain. I am an immigrant from Germany. Consequently, it was Germany's Motor Vehicle Commission, the Kraftfahrtbundesamt
, that issued my 1988 driver license. And it was on German roads, of course, that 20 years of my 25-year driving history has happened. But when you ask American car insurers for a quote, they'll only ask you how long you have had an American
driver license, and how many accidents you have had while driving in America
. And what's more, not only won't they ask
you about any foreign part of your driving history; they'll refuse to even listen
when you try to volunteer it.
So that's what keeps happening to me. US insurance companies consistently assign me to a wrong risk pool, one that's dominated by 21-year-old college kids, driving with the average college kid's appetite for risk and the average college kid's experience at driving. (A frequent checkbox I'm getting during the online-quote process is, "are you a student who drives to school, or are you living on campus?") With a realistic driving history entered into the online questionnaires (25-years, no accident ever), the quotes I'm getting are cheaper to the tune of several hundred dollars a year. So by artificially putting me into an unrealistic risk pool, insurers are overcharging me by this much for the actual risk they're insuring me against.
And this brings me to my conjecture for this thread, which goes like this: As applied to me and others in my situation, the policies by which American car insurance companies' assign drivers to risk pools constitute discrimination against foreign-born Americans. (Or in my case, foreign-born future Americans).
Now I have three questions about what to do with this:
- Does my conjecture have any merit? Or is my acute annoyance with the insurers' operating procedure clouding my judgment? (As you might guess, my policy is up for renewal these days.) If there is no merit to it, feel free to skip the rest of my questions.
- If there is merit to it, is there enough meat there to file a lawsuit? How would I go about filing such a lawsuit? And whom would I sue? The practice is common to all American auto insurance companies, not just any particular one.
- Would it be worth the trouble for me?
- Would it be worth the trouble when considered as a public service to my fellow immigrants?
Okay, so those were four questions. (As Monty Python might have said, "amongst our questionnaire are such issues as . . . .") Anyway, what do you guys think?