Consumer Reports paired with ProPublica, the nonprofit public-interest investigative journalism website, for an analysis of insurance premiums and payouts in a sampling of states: California, Texas, Illinois and Missouri. What they found were discrepancies between what insurers charge similarly safe drivers in white neighborhoods versus minority neighborhoods.
Insurers say that they charge more because of risk differences in neighborhoods. But the investigation found that the rate differences could not be explained by risk differences alone. In fact, the rates were higher - as in, 30 percent higher - in minority neighborhoods that had the exact same risk levels as white neighborhoods.
The report's opening anecdote compares two Chicagoans: Ryan Hedges, who pays $54 a month to insure his 2015 Audi Q5, and Otis Nash, a black man who pays $190 a month to the same insurer - Geico - to cover his 2012 Honda Civic LX. And here's the thing: Data show that Nash's neighborhood, though run-down, is actually safer from an insurance point of view.
It's a complex topic, of course, filled with confounding variables. But the report is transparent in explaining the methodology ProPublica's reporters used to reach these conclusions.
The report features interactive tools along with a chart that compares coverage costs in two ZIP codes, as charged by 30 major carriers, and some of the differences are astonishing. No matter your race or your neighborhood, it's well worth a read to see if the insurer you do business with is doing business this way.