disb

Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking

Evaluating Unintentional Bias in Private Passenger Automobile Insurance

Initiative to Evaluate Unintentional Bias in Private Passenger Automobile Insurance

Background

In 2020, Commissioner Karima Woods, Commissioner for the District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) directed the creation of the Department’s first Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee to engage in a wide-ranging review of financial equity and inclusion and to make recommendations to remove barriers to accessing financial services. Department staff developed draft initiatives, including an initiative related to insurers’ use of factors such as credit scores, education, occupation, home ownership and marital status in underwriting and ratemaking. Stakeholder feedback on this draft initiative resulted in the Department concluding that data was necessary to properly address this initiative. Department staff conducted research and contacted subject matter experts before determining that relevant data was not generally available.

The Department is undertaking this project to collect the relevant data. We determined this initiative will be deliberative and transparent to ensure the resultant data would address the issue of unintentional bias. We also decided to initially focus on private passenger automobile insurance as that is a line of insurance that affects many District consumers and has previously had questions raised about the use of non-driving factors. The collected data will build on previous work done by the Department through the 2018 and 2019 public hearings and examinations that looked at private passenger automobile insurance ratemaking methodologies.

For this project to look at the potential for unintentional bias in auto insurance, DISB will conduct a review of auto insurers’ rating and underwriting methodologies. As a first step, DISB held a public hearing on Wednesday, June 29, 2022 at 3 pm to gather stakeholder input on the review plan, which is outlined below. The Department has engaged the services of O’Neil Risk Consulting and Algorithmic Auditing (ORCAA) to assist the Department and provide subject matter expertise. Additionally, the Department will hold one or more meetings to follow up on any items raised during the public hearing.

  • Motivation
    • DISB wants to explore whether the use of certain information by auto insurers in the application and underwriting process may cause harm to Black, indigenous, people of color, and other protected classes of Washington, DC consumers.
    • Examples of such information are: credit scores, education, home ownership, occupation and marital status.
       
  • Approach
    • DISB will investigate these concerns by conducting a review of recent applications for auto insurance within Washington, DC.
    • The review will require all carriers writing private passenger auto policies in DC to submit data from recent applications to DISB for testing, through a data call. All carriers will be subject to the same tests. The elements of the data call will be developed based on input at the public hearing and appropriate follow up.
    • The central purpose of these tests is to measure differences in underwriting decisions or pricing between applicants of different races or ethnicities.
    • Since insurance carriers do not collect applicants’ races or ethnicities, this information will be inferred for the limited purpose of the testing in this review. This will be done by ORCAA for the Department, using widely used inference methodologies, applied the same way to all carriers.
       
  • Additional comments
    • DISB will not require detailed information about carriers’ underwriting or pricing models, such as a description of the models’ structures, lists of variables used, and their weights. The focus is on the outcomes of these models.
    • Since the tests are new, this review will be considered “supplemental,” so neither the data provided, nor the corresponding test results, will be determinative in the review of a particular rate proposal.
    • The test results may determine additional filing requirements for future rate filings that would be implemented after an appropriate transition period.
    • This review process will not require insurers to collect or hold any race/ethnicity data about its applicants or customers.
    • DISB will not publish or otherwise disclose any company specific data collected as part of this initiative.
    • DISB will prepare a report of its findings that will be available to the public.
    • DISB will propose legislative changes to address insurers’ use of certain factors in their underwriting and rating practices if it is determined that such factors have led to unintentional bias.

Request for Comment

Hearing

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