A national consumer group says people who drive less aren't getting the price breaks they deserve from most of the big auto insurance companies.
A new study by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) found customers who drive less than 5,000 miles a year may not get any discount at three of the five largest auto insurers – Farmers, Progressive and Allstate – unless they live in California, where mileage is required to be used as a rating factor.
State Farm was the only big insurance company that consistently gave a significantly lower price quote to low-mileage drivers.
"The failure of most major insurers to use mileage to help determine prices discriminates against lower-income and older drivers and in doing so also increases the number of uninsured drivers," said Stephen Brobeck, CFA's Executive Director. "This lack of concern for mileage, along with an emphasis on other non-driving factors such as occupation and income, help explain why insurers charge many lower income drivers such high prices for minimal, state-required liability coverage."
The insurance industry says it does not discriminate against anyone.
Steven Weisbart, senior vice president and chief economist at the Insurance Information Institute (an industry trade association), told NBC News that mileage may not be as important as some believe.
"Auto insurance companies want to get the best match they can between the premium they charge and the risk they assume," Weisbart said. "In some cases miles driven is a helpful factor, but experience suggests there are lots of other things that need to be taken into account."