New law prohibits auto insurers from charging higher rates to the widowed

 

STATE HOUSE – Legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Valarie J. Lawson and Rep. Arthur Handy to prohibit auto insurers from charging policyholders more solely because they have been widowed has been signed into law.

The legislation (2024-H 7606, 2024-S 2269), which was approved by the General Assembly May 21 and signed by Gov. Daniel McKee May 31, prohibits auto insurers from treating widows or widowers any differently than married people in terms of classification or rates, beginning with policies issued after Jan. 1, 2025.

“Marital status is one of many, many factors insurance companies weigh when they decide what their risk is to insure a driver. But a person doesn’t become a bigger risk as a result of losing their spouse. Besides being baseless, it’s just callous to add higher insurance rates to the heavy burdens of those who are grieving their spouses,” said Representative Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston), who became aware of this issue following the passing of his wife, Tish DiPrete, in 2021.

The issue was brought to Senator Lawson’s attention by a constituent whose husband had passed away. When she informed her insurance company of her husband’s death, she was quickly notified that her car insurance would be increasing by $450 per year as a result.

“Everyone who has experienced loss knows how devastating it is to deal with the practical matters and expenses and the uncertainly of a major life change on top of the heavy emotional toll of the grieving process. Adding an additional expense to the lives of those mourning a loved one is unnecessary and unfair,” said Senator Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence).

 

The local insurance industry supported the bill, noting that not only will this bill lead to more fair outcomes for policyholders, but that widowed persons, unlike other rating factors, present little to no additional risk as drivers.

 

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