As you’re shopping for home or auto insurance, you might come across the concept of the credit-based insurance score, or simply the insurance score. Hmm, that’s odd. What does credit have to do with insurance risk, and how does it affect the cost of your insurance? Does having good or bad credit affect your insurance policy premiums?
Your credit score may be affecting how much you pay for insurance. Most homeowners and auto insurance companies in Florida use credit-based insurance scores as part of the process of setting their insurance rates.
Read on for the answers to five commonly asked questions about credit scores and insurance.
1. What’s the difference between credit score and insurance score?
Credit-based insurance scores (or insurance scores) are ratings based on your consumer credit information. They use much of the same information to provide a rating as credit scores do—payment history, outstanding debt, pursuit of new credit, credit mix—but they are used to predict insurance losses. As with credit scores, the higher your insurance score the better, because, according to the Insurance Information Institute (iii.org), “Insurance claims tend to decline as credit scores improve.”
2. Why do insurance companies use credit information to rate premiums?
Insurance scores were developed in the 1990s to help insurance companies more accurately underwrite and price insurance policies. Though they are not the only measure used to rate a policy (see below), the industry has determined that “…people who have low insurance scores, as a group, account for a high proportion of the dollars paid out in claims.” (Source: iii.org.) Experts speculate that the connection is behavioral—those who manage their money and credit well tend to manage other areas of their lives, such as maintaining their homes and vehicles, in a responsible way, which reduces risk.
Also according to iii.org, when insurance companies use credit-based insurance scores, many people (more than 50%) see lower insurance rates overall because insurance companies are able to price coverage that reflects risks more accurately.
3. Does it hurt my credit rating when an insurance company asks for my credit info?
No. When an insurance company requests information about your credit, it’s not considered a “hard credit pull.” Hard credit inquiries result when you apply for a loan, mortgage, or credit card.
4. What other information is used to determine home and auto insurance premiums?
In addition to insurance scores, for auto coverage, insurance companies will use some combination of your geographical area, model of vehicle, accident history, age of drivers, driving records, insurance claims, and sometimes how many miles you drive in a year. For homeowners insurance, they will consider things like the home’s age and construction, cost to rebuild the structure in case of a total loss, location, proximity to water for firefighting, and flood risk.
5. How can I improve my credit/insurance score?
This is a great question since people with higher insurance scores usually pay somewhat less for their insurance.
First, check your credit score yearly. By law, you’re entitled to one free credit report each year from the national credit reporting companies Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Read over your report and correct any errors that might be bringing your score down.
The best thing you can do to improve your credit score is to make your payments on time, including bills, taxes, and any fines or fees you need to pay. It also helps to pay off your credit card balances or keep them as low as possible. If you need to apply for a new credit card or loan, try to wait six months or so between applications—applying for too much credit at one time can temporarily lower your credit score.
Remember, though if you do improve your credit score, make sure you compare insurance rates at renewal time. Don’t just assume your insurance premium will decrease.
Shop your insurance with an independent agency
Whether you have good credit or bad credit, Lakewood Financial Services can help you find auto and home insurance coverage at the most affordable price. Because we are an independent agency, we write with many different insurance carriers and have more options to choose from than a captive agency. Let our agents shop for your best insurance deal—call us at 941-747-4600, or click here to contact us online.