PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island House of Representatives has approved legislation seeking to ban auto insurers from charging higher rates to those who have been widowed.

Rep. Arthur Handy, D-Cranston, sponsored the bill, saying he became aware of the rate hikes after his wife’s death.

“Marital status is one of many, many factors insurance companies weigh when they decide what their risk is to insure a driver,” he explained. “But a person doesn’t become a bigger risk simply as a result of losing their spouse.”

“Besides being unnecessary, it’s hurtful to people who have lost their spouse to say that it somehow makes them riskier to insure,” Handy added.

The bill has the support of the local insurance industry, according to Handy. He said one representative told the House Corporations Committee they were shocked to learn the practice was still in use.

If passed by the Senate, the bill would go into effect starting with policies issued after Jan. 1, 2024.