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Legislation Could Stop Insurance Companies From Using Jobs, Education To Determine Rates For New Jersey Drivers

NEW JERSEY (CBSNewYork) -- In New Jersey, you might be paying more for car insurance.

It's not because of your driving record. What you do for a living or whether you went to college could have an impact.

There's a push to change this little-known practice, CBS2's Meg Baker reported Friday.

Ron Heisler, a mechanic, shopped around for car insurance and didn't know why he was quoted higher rates by certain companies. Then, he found out it might be because of his job and high school level education.

"I further went to other companies and applied as a lawyer with a Ph.D. and my rate was considerably lower," Heisler said.

Heisler said he has a clean driving record.

"I don't have any points. I'm 51 years of age. I don't have any claims," he said.

Industry expert Eric Poe from Cure Insurance is on a social justice crusade and says it's time to stop charging blue-collar workers more. It's sometimes 40% more.

"So, the cycle of poverty in this country really involves the vehicle," Poe said. "So, for poor people in this country, if you start making the cost for car insurance so high that they can't afford a car."

But if you have more money and assets, you're often offered a discount because you're more likely to bundle insurance for car and home.

David Snyder with the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, which represents thousands of insurance companies, says these factors are only intended to do one thing:

"Assess as accurately as possible someone's likelihood to have a claim and the cost of that claim in the future," Snyder said.

If you eliminate the questions about occupation, Snyder said, "Then you'll lose things like discounts for essential workers like teachers and nurses, police officers, firefighters and the military."

In New York, it's illegal to ask for this information. But it's still legal in New Jersey.

A bill to stop using these factors was passed by the New Jersey Senate and now sits with the State Assembly.

"As the end of the day, New Jersey had some of the highest auto rates, literally, in the country," said Assemblyman John McKeon (D). "Fifteen, 18 years ago, we had put some reforms in play that stabilized them. So we want to be careful not to do anything that would allow those rates to start to soar again. At the same time, we have to balance the social justice issues."

The legislature is expected to take this issue back up in the fall.

CBS2's Meg Baker contributed to this report.

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