In some cases, insurers such as Allstate, Geico and Liberty Mutual charged premiums that, on average, were 30 percent higher in zip codes where most residents are minorities than in whiter neighborhoods with similar accident costs. To this day, most auto insurers base premiums in part on “territorial ratings”, derived from the risk of the area where the car is located. In an exhaustive analysis of MetLife's history published in 2002, New York State insurance regulators catalogued all the ways in which the company discriminated against black life insurance applicants dating back to the 1880s, when it refused to insure them, and to the first half of the 20th century, when it required minorities to undergo additional medical tests and sold them substandard plans. Corley, who now works as an independent insurance agent with offices in San Diego and San Jose, said the greater diversity of agents has improved the business.
However, a unique analysis of its kind by ProPublica and Consumer Reports, which examined auto insurance premiums and payments in California, Illinois, Texas and Missouri, revealed that many of the disparities in auto insurance prices between minority and white neighborhoods are wider than can explain the differences in risk. California insurance commissioner John Garamendi blamed the discriminatory practices of the country's insurance companies. Some auto insurers charge higher premiums in Chicago's minority neighborhoods than in predominantly white neighborhoods with a similar risk of accidents. A Geico application in Illinois states that it charges more to insure an expensive car than for a cheap one.
Since then, Illinois, home to the corporate headquarters of State Farm and Allstate, has been the only state without legislation that explicitly prohibits excessive or discriminatory rates on auto insurance. The insurers sued the Texas Department of Insurance and Birnbaum, arguing that the information was a trade secret and that its publication had harmed their business. Corley persisted and eventually established a network of independent minority insurance brokers who worked together to persuade major insurers to turn them into agents and sell policies through them. This research marks the industry's first use of payment data to measure racial disparities in auto insurance premiums in every state.
Liberty Mutual, the parent company of Sfeco, told ProPublica that it is committed to offering drivers “competitively priced car insurance coverage options.” Thompson knowingly provided false and misleading information when obtaining an auto insurance policy from Progressive Garden State Insurance Company, as well as when filing a subsequent claim for car theft.