The cost of auto insurance depends on a number of factors considered by carriers when evaluating a prospective customer. In most states, age, location, income and past claims history are significant rating factors, but another factor that plays an important role in determining the rate is your credit-based insurance score. Whether you are a new insurance shopper or only want to switch providers for a better deal, your credit-based insurance score can help determine the price you have to pay for your policy. Having a basic understanding of what goes into your insurance score and how it is utilized can help you save money on your auto insurance by reducing your risk as a customer.
What is an insurance score?
Based on the information provided by your credit reports, insurers use this information to create their own scores, known as credit-based insurance scores, to help determine your risk as a policyholder. The higher your score, the less likely you are to file a claim, and lower scores represent a greater risk to the insurance company that you’ll file a claim. Because premiums are determined based on risk, this is why your insurance score can impact the premiums you pay.
However, not all states allow the use of credit as a factor for determining auto insurance rates. The states that prohibit credit from being used are California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Washington.
Why is an insurance score important?
Insurance scores play a significant role in calculating the cost of your insurance premiums. Insurance companies try to predict how much money it will cost to provide coverage to a customer. This expected cost, amongst other factors, is used to determine how much the company should charge a customer in premiums to avoid losing money.
The vast majority of insurers in the U.S. are private businesses and cannot survive without making a profit. Without the use of insurance scores, companies would have less accuracy in predicting a customer’s cost. To offset this increased margin of error, companies would likely need to raise the rates on all customers.
How is an insurance score calculated?
Insurers use several factors to determine your insurance score. Everything from payment history to outstanding debt to credit mix is calculated into your score. Each of these variables can be obtained from your credit report. Below are the most critical factors, as listed by the NAIC. The percentage next to each variable is how much of your insurance score is determined by that variable.
- Payment history (40%): Everything from missed payments to punctual payments is the primary factor used in insurance and credit scores because it helps insurers from an idea of your premium payments.
- Outstanding debt (30%): How much money you owe at the time of the report is of great importance to the insurance provider because it tells the company how likely you are to pay premiums regularly and file a claim.
- Credit history length (15%): The amount of time you have had a line of credit, whether credit cards, loans, mortgages or another format, goes into determining your insurance score.
- Pursuit of new credit (10%): New applications for new lines of credit can imply increased risk. Even if you are handling your current credit limits and debts well, adding another line of credit could destabilize that.
- Credit mix (5%): While this has the smallest impact, the variety and number of credit lines you have can affect your insurance score.
What is a good insurance score?
Insurance scores range from good to bad. The higher your insurance score, the better it is. According to Progressive, insurance scores range from 200 to 997, with everything below 500 considered a poor score, and everything from 776 to 997 is considered a good score.
So, what is a good insurance score? Anything over 775.
|776 – 977||Good|
|626 – 775||Average|
|501 – 625||Below average|
|200 – 500||Poor|
How to improve your insurance score
Thankfully, there are many ways to improve your insurance score. For the most part, strategies and techniques for improving credit scores will also increase your credit-based insurance score. The primary approach is to treat your credit and bills with as much financial responsibility as you can. This means paying bills on time, keeping your credit utilization rate at or below 30%, quickly paying down debt and meeting financial agreements and contracts.
To see your credit score and track when and how much it is improving, you can go to www.annualcreditreport.com for one free insurance credit score report every year. When you use this link, you will be given copies of your credit report from each of the three primary credit bureaus. If your credit score is improving, it’s likely your insurance score is as well.
Frequently asked questions
Does an insurance score affect all policy types?
In most states, the answer is yes. However, some states have laws limiting which policy forms can use credit reports to calculate premiums. For example, some states limit the use of an insurance score to auto or home insurance, while other states allow your score to be used with all insurance policies.
What makes your insurance score decreases?
Anything that makes your credit score worse will make your insurance score go down. Being late on your bills and debt payments, taking out excessive lines and types of credit and maintaining a high credit utilization rate can reduce (worsen) your insurance score.
Do all states use an insurance score?
Like California and Massachusetts, some states prohibit insurers from using credit-based insurance scores when calculating auto and homeowners rates. Maryland prohibits insurers from using insurance scores when calculating home insurance rates but allows its usage for auto insurance rates. Oregon limits what credit information can be used to calculate your rates. The laws vary by state; however, many states do allow these scores to help determine rates.
How is my insurance score different from my credit score?
Your insurance score is calculated from your credit report to determine how expensive you are to insure. Your credit score is calculated from the same report but to determine how likely you are to go delinquent on a debt. Each uses overlapping variables, but the formula, outcome and purpose are all different.
Is my home insurance score the same as my auto insurance score?
Often, yes, it will be. However, this can vary depending on your insurer, and whether the same company provides your home and auto insurance. It can also depend on what state you reside in and if there are different credit-usage restrictions for auto and homeowners insurance in your state.