Your credit score will have a direct impact not only on your ability to obtain car insurance but also on the amount of your monthly premium. Nowadays, most insurance companies are using a numerical formula called an insurance credit score. This score is calculated using a set formula that takes your credit score and other factors, shakes them up and shoots out an insurance score.
According to a variety of actuarial studies, this insurance score is a reflection of how likely you are to be involved in an accident. Your insurance premiums are then set accordingly. The higher your insurance credit score, the lower your insurance premiums, and vice-versa. This formula is very similar to the formula used by banks when processing loans or credit card applications.
Why The New Policy?
Insurance companies, as with all companies that profit from risk taking ventures, must try to manage that risk to the best of their ability. They have sought and found a reliable method of assessing a driver’s potential for filing claims. A study conducted by an actuarial consulting firm found that there is a 99% correlation between insurance credit scores and insurance claims filed. Utilizing insurance credit scores to make coverage and rate premium decisions, assists insurance companies in setting rates as close as possible to the amount of risk that they incur by insuring any particular driver.
Also, it is a fact that MVR reports are notorious for omitting driving citations/tickets that were resolved favorably in court. Therefore, they are not accurate representations of a person’s driving record. The insurance credit score is now the indicator of a persons’ claim filing potential.
How Is The Insurance Score Calculated?
Your insurance credit score is calculated using a formula similar to that utilized by banks when they extend credit. Insurance scores are developed by the Fair Isaacs Company. They use between fifteen and thirty different credit characteristics. Each characteristic is assigned a different weight. This calculation assigns each file a score between 100-999, the lower the score, the greater the risk. Usually credit activity in prior twelve months is given the most weight.
Integral portions of the fifteen to thirty characteristics are your payment history, debts, length of credit history, new accounts, and balance of accounts as reflected on your credit report. It is illegal to use personal data, such as a person’s ethnic group, religion, gender, family or marital status, handicaps, nationality, age, address or income when calculating their insurance credit score.
What If I Have An Excellent Driving Record But A Few Late Payments On Credit Accounts, Will I Pay Higher Premiums?
The not so pleasant answer to this question is yes. If you’ve never been in a car accident, yet have a blemished credit record, it is highly likely that your insurance premiums will be higher than a driver that has a blemished driving record, yet has excellent credit. This is because underwriters feel that your credit score is an indicator of your fiscal responsibility, and that if you are fiscally responsible you are a more responsible driver. Responsible driver’s are lower risks and file fewer claims, costing insurance companies less money, and are therefore rewarded with lower premiums.
What If I Don’t Have Any Credit History?
Your insurance file will be termed as a “no-hitter” or a “thin” file. Federal regulations require that your lack of credit not be counted against your application for auto insurance. The insurance company must treat your file as a neutral or average risk when making an underwriting decision.
I Have Bad Credit And Need Auto Insurance, What Should I Do?
There is a market for all types of credit across all types of industries. The insurance industry is no different. You will more than likely have to pay higher to substantially higher rates, but in most cases you should be able to obtain insurance. No matter what, make sure you shop around to see who offers the best rate for your financial situation.
I Have Good Credit, How Do I Make Sure That I Am Getting The Best Rate For My Score?
Auto insurers do have different risk scoring calculations depending on which characteristics provided by Fair Isaacs they use. So it is possible that different companies will assign you different insurance risk scores. If you have average to good credit, forum shopping is a recommended choice of action. Insurance inquiries by legal mandate will not affect your credit beacon score.
What Else Should I Know?
In certain states it is possible to review current customers’ insurance credit score and adjust their rates accordingly. This of course is of importance if you are a resident of a state that allows this practice.
Hawaii, New Jersey, California and Massachusetts have passed regulations that prohibit auto insurance companies from calculating their customers’ premiums based on their credit score.
If an insurance company utilizes your credit information for their underwriting and ratemaking process, they have to inform you. Also, if for any reason they deny your application, you are entitled to one of those, “Hey we denied you but you can get your free credit report as a consolation prize” letters.
Finally, be aware that the underwriting department of an insurance company cannot deny your application or raise your rates on the basis of any of the following: absence of credit history; number of credit inquiries; purchase of a vehicle or a house that increases the amount of debt you have; use of a particular type of credit card, debit card or charge card (such as dept. store or gas credit card)
Good credit is essential to ensuring that you are receiving the best auto insurance rates possible. The days of insurance rates being primarily based upon your driving record are over. Now, the basis is your responsibility with your finances.
No matter what you credit score is – be sure that you shop around and compare car insurance rates from multiple companies once every 6 months in order to find the best deal.