"Patriot Penalty:" Soldiers Hit with Higher Auto Insurance Rate

"Patriot Penalty:" Soldiers Hit with Higher Auto Insurance Rate

If you have to pick one television series that truly encapsulates the American ethos, perhaps it’s CNBC’s “American Greed.” If you watch the docuseries regularly, you’ll be constantly on guard against businessmen and businesswomen incessantly trying to hood wink you.

With that mind, we give you the “Patriot Penalty,” a relatively new scheme that involves auto insurance companies charging deployed armed services members higher rates than civilians. It’s especially surprising, given how so many insurance companies wrap their branding in the American flag. While numerous companies within many industries love project an image of being excessively friendly to those who serve, insurance advertising often takes it up a notch.


While researching sr22 insurance and other types of auto insurance, investigative reporters uncovered some peculiar activity at Geico. The firm, known for their animated gecko lizard character, quoted a North Carolina civilian a six month rate of $527, versus $682 for a recently-deployed soldier; a difference of $155. That’s according to KBTX, the CBS affiliate in College Station, Texas. It’s not just an issue in Texas and North Carolina though. InvestigateTV found that someone whose auto insurance lapsed because he was deployed overseas received a higher estimate from Geico on a six-month premium than someone who had insurance” in 22 states.

Insurance experts believe there is no legitimate actuarial reason to charge recently deployed soldiers more, and the practice has incensed many Americans, including consumer rights advocates. “It makes me so angry they get away with that ad,” said Doug Heller, an insurance expert who works for the Consumer Federation of America.

“Because I know what Geico does for soldiers. They charge them more for auto insurance.” So if isn’t a logical practice, and anybody who seems to be paying attention disapproves, why do it? Other than the most American practice of all (racking up as much profit as possible at all times), what’s the logic here?

follow the money and see where it goes

Reportedly, Geico believes that recently deployed vets have rusty driving skills and are thus more likely to get into an accident. Sure, there might be some logic to that argument, but given the negative PR and damage to their brand, is the patriot penalty proverbial juice worth the squeeze here?

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

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Filed under: Current Events, Policy

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