By Marlene Lang

“The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism
by those who have not got it.”
– George Bernard Shaw

Policy changes and budget manipulation trickling down from Washington may help some of us bungle through hard times. Meanwhile I’m trying to save on car insurance.

That’s right. I asked myself where I could cut back and it seemed like a good place to start. That charming little reptilian dude convinced me. I decided to get a quote.

In order to obtain that quote – online – I was forced to cough up my mailing address, cell phone number, marital status, SS number, whether I was breast- or bottle-fed, and other pseudo-pertinent info. These are dangerous and annoying disclosures in today’s privacy-deprived world.  I became transparent, and shortly received an e-quote in my INBOX, the gecko face staring at me, lizard arms gently crossed as he leaned forward a tad, head tilted. He’s so likeable. So sensitive. So trustworthy.

The new quote was $2 higher than I’d been paying. I was disappointed, but happy to see that the message before me was NOT a “NO REPLY” mailing. I quickly responded with an inquiry as to why I was not able to save on car insurance, as it had been loosely suggested I would be. I have a nice clean driving record, I explained. I’m a cautious female driver in the “almost old” category and I’ve been working from home.

I hit SEND and immediately searched criteria for calculating car insurance rates.  I discovered that one of my pet peeve “discrimination” factors was at work again; marital status. Ah, yes. I expressed seething resentment in this very column last April when I realized I was paying $1,500 a year in extra taxes for my impudent sin of remaining single. We all know the lines are long of attractive 40- or 50-ish men jonesing to marry women their own age. This time, my failure-of-family-values penalty had appeared in the form of higher car insurance rates. The insurance industry Web sites did not offer an explanation for their single-granny bashing. One site simply stated, “A married person will pay less than a single person with an identical driving record.” No offering of statistics. Just folk wisdom, I guess. We all know married people are more stable.

Another factor discussed was credit rating; the better your credit score the lower your insurance premium, in many cases. I wondered at this, but at least an explanation was given. People with lower credit scores are more likely to be poor and therefore more likely to make fraudulent claims, according to one site. As we all know, fraud costs everyone, so insurance companies ask, “Why pass along the cost to honest people?” The article really said this.

Tino Buntic, “Expert Author” for EzineArticles, explained insurance companies’ reasoning: “It is better to hit this demographic (the credit-challenged drivers whom we all know are liars) with higher rates than to increase everybody’s rates, which would include honest drivers.”

Wow. Has anyone else observed lately that fraud and other stealth forms of theft are not just for the poor masses? To say nothing of a little linguistic sleight of hand: equating honest drivers with not poor drivers?

I was pleased to find two days later that my e-mail inquiry had been received, complete with my permanently attached signature quote, at bottom, from George Bernard Shaw:
“The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those who have not got it.”

A kind e-reply from Ashley explained to me that the systems for calculating premium rates vary between companies.

“Dear George Bernard Shaw,” the note began. “We’re sorry we weren’t able to help lower your insurance costs at this time.” Ashley wrote that if I were to speak with a representative on the phone and provide more specific information, it was still possible that I could save on car insurance. I would have to confess the age of my first sexual encounter and the amount of dark chocolate I consume in a given month while driving.

Perhaps if I marry the Gieco gecko I can save on both car insurance and taxes.

All content at Redwing Post is the property of Marlene Lang Copyright 2018.
This column was published by The Daily Southtown, Sun-Times Media, January 2009.
It may not be published in any form without permission.



Marlene Lang, Ph.D. is Asst. Professor of Religious Studies at Mount St. Joseph University. She previously worked for more than a decade as a government reporter, editor, and columnist.



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