Insurance Department Alerts Consumers to Unlawful Practice of “Price Optimization” by Insurance Companies
September 10, 2015
Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf joined Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller today in alerting consumers that the Insurance Department will continue to oppose a practice known in the industry as “price optimization”, in which sophisticated pricing tools are used to charge different premiums to policyholders who present essentially the same risk to the insurer, with the price differences based on whether or not a particular policyholder is likely to shop around for less expensive coverage.
“My administration is working with Commissioner Miller to ensure that Pennsylvania consumers are protected from unlawful schemes like price optimization,” Governor Wolf said. “We will continue to promote these vital consumer protections laws across the Commonwealth.”
So-called “price optimization” occurs when an insurer uses software and rating models to set insurance rates based in some way on how much a consumer or group of consumers may be willing to pay before they would shop around for a better price.
“As part of Governor Wolf’s emphasis on consumer protection, I have notified insurers that I will not approve any such rates that violate state laws requiring all persons of the same class and the same hazard or risk to be charged the same premiums,” Commissioner Miller said. “In short, this practice takes advantage of a customer’s loyalty to a company.”
State law dictates that the practice of charging different premiums to people who are statistically more likely to cost the insurer the same amount in claims and expenses is unfairly discriminatory. Commissioner Miller said that while the Insurance Department has not approved these premiums in the past, as part of Governor Wolf’s emphasis on transparency and consumer safety, her department is working hard to spread awareness about this prohibition statewide.
Commissioner Miller recommends that customers, especially in the areas of homeowners and auto insurance, discuss premium increases with their agents. If the agent is not able to provide a satisfactory reason for any premium increase, consumers should shop around to see whether comparable coverage is available from another company at a better price. She noted that Pennsylvania has a competitive insurance market, with many options available to consumers. Any consumer who has questions about any aspect of insurance can contact the Insurance Department at www.insurance.pa.gov, or by calling 1-877-881-6388.
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