'Immoral' Detroit Car Policy Rates 'Should Be Illegal,' Posts Author Anna Clark

This commentary is reposted with permission from the writer's Facebook page. Freelance journalist Anna Clark, editor of A Detroit Anthology (2014), is working on a book about Flint' titled "Water's Perfect Memory."  

By Anna Clark

I am about to move from Detroit to Ann Arbor for one year. My AAA car insurance premium will drop from $203.61 per month to $72.92 per month. That's a drop of $130.69, or about 65 percent, with the policy still in the name of the same Anna, and the same 2007 Ford Focus.

Tell me this isn't modern-day redlining. Tell me this isn't punishing people who live in the city for being Detroiters.


Anna Clark: "This should be illegal. It is certainly immoral." (Photo by Michelle and Chris Gerard)

Tell me this isn't begging people to drive without sufficient car insurance, here in a city with patchy public transportation, or to commit insurance fraud by using a family member's out-of-town address, as I was advised to do in 2007 by my landlord, the dealership that sold me the car and many others. (I didn't do it.)

Tell me that having a car in Ann Arbor -- a town of nearly 50,000 college students -- is seriously 65 percent safer than Detroit.

I don't believe it.

And, for the record, I have not had so much as a window broken in nine years in Detroit. AAA hasn't paid out a single claim to me.

A few years ago, I wrote an article about the curious history of ZIP codes. "In the modern-day insurance industry, it is illegal to redline by race and ethnicity—that is, to charge higher premiums to certain groups—but it is perfectly permissible to redline by ZIP code. (California is the one exception)," I wrote. "And wouldn't you know it? Price-gouging rates tend to target ZIP codes with a disproportionate number of racial and ethnic minorities."

The preposterously high insurance rates Detroiters are expected to pay isn't news to me. But I'm angry about it all over again.

This should be illegal. It is certainly immoral.

And in the meantime, please, please vote to support the millage for regional transit in November. (And, people in Oakland and Macomb county, talk to your county executives STAT to make sure it gets on the ballot in the first place.)

We deserve more and better choices.


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