Your credit score can have an impact on several areas of your life. From buying a home, getting a car loan or opening a line of credit, your credit score can make some processes easier or more difficult. It may surprise you that credit is also often a factor when it comes to how much you pay for your car insurance.
Insurance premiums are based partly on perceived risk. Insurance companies view shoppers with higher credit as less likely to make late payments or file a claim. Generally, the higher your credit, the lower your insurance premium. Understanding how insurance companies evaluate your credit score and how you can improve yours to attain more affordable rates may help you feel more confident in your insurance decisions.
What factors impact my car insurance rates?
Auto insurance companies look at a myriad of rating factors to determine your eligibility and premiums. These factors are standard for most companies, but every company may weigh each factor differently. For example, some companies may charge more than others if you have a history of auto claims.
Here are some key rating factors that most insurance companies take into account:
- Year, make and model of vehicle
- Vehicle usage and mileage
- Citation history
- Accident history
- Previous insurance information
- Credit information
The purpose of an auto insurance policy is to help you handle the financial responsibilities following an accident. Because insurance companies pay for some of the expenses after car crashes, rates are largely based on the likelihood that you will file a claim.
Rating factors can help an insurance company determine how statistically likely you are to file a claim. Each insurance company offers a different set of rates and views these rating factors differently. Comparing insurance companies can be a good way to find a policy that works for you.
Does your credit score affect car insurance rates?
While your credit score often impacts your auto insurance rates, there are only certain details taken into consideration. Insurance companies use what is called a credit-based insurance score. An insurance company is not concerned with how much money you make but with how well you manage your money. No personal information such as age, gender or address is used in credit-based insurance scores. Instead, insurance companies look at the following:
- Outstanding debt: This is the amount of debt you currently have.
- Credit history length: This shows how long you have had an open line of credit.
- Credit mix: This reflects different lines of credit, such as auto loans and credit cards.
- Payment history: This shows how well you have managed to pay your debts over time.
- Pursuit of new credit: This shows recent attempts to open new lines of credit.
Together, these factors help insurance companies assess their insureds as a risk. Studies have shown that there is a correlation between credit-based insurance scores and claims filed. Statistically, the lower your credit score, the more likely you are to file an insurance claim. Because of this increased risk, insurance companies tend to charge more if you have a lower credit score.
National average annual full coverage premium by credit rating
How credit score impacts insurance premiums by state
Each state has its own laws when it comes to auto insurance, as well as geographic factors like the incidence of accidents in a certain area or the risk of a vehicle being stolen. This is why the average premium for insurance is different from one state to the next.
The table below shows the average full coverage premium in various states and Washington, D.C., sorted by credit tier. You may notice that California, Hawaii and Massachusetts are missing; these states prohibit the use of credit as a car insurance rating factor.
Annual full coverage premium by state and credit rating
What can I do to improve my credit score?
Your credit score is an important part of your overall financial health. A high credit score can help you be approved for loans, qualify for lower interest rates or get a higher credit limit. If your credit score is not the best, there are ways that you can improve it. Although it may take time, improving your credit score might help you to lower your car insurance premiums.
Pay your bills on time
Insurance companies look at your payment history. If you have a history of overdue bills, this could be an indication to companies that you do not manage your money well. Consistently paying your bills by the due date might help to increase your overall credit score.
Keep hard credit inquiries to a minimum
Whenever you apply for a line of credit, the company considering you as a customer will pull your credit report. Too many inquiries can have a negative impact on your score. If you are trying to build your credit, you may want to consider waiting to apply for a loan or line of credit.
Monitor your score regularly
Monitoring your credit score can be beneficial in several ways. When you know your score, you can more easily take steps to improve it. Regular reviews of your credit reports can also help you to identify inaccuracies or fraudulent activity. If you see anything suspicious, you can take steps to dispute it.
Frequently asked questions
How can I monitor my credit score?
You can request a free copy of your credit report from each of the major credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — once every 12 months. There are other apps and services you can use for more frequent monitoring.
How can I improve my credit-based insurance score?
Although credit-based insurance scores are not the same as your credit score, improving your credit score will also likely improve your insurance score. Paying your bills on time and avoiding hard inquiries might improve both your credit score and your credit-based insurance score and possibly lead to lower premiums.
Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2021 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record, good credit and the following full coverage limits:
- $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
- $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
- $50,000 property damage liability per accident
- $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
- $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
- $500 collision deductible
- $500 comprehensive deductible
To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverages that meet each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2019 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.
Rates were calculated based on the following insurance credit tiers assigned to our drivers: “poor, average, good (base), and excellent.” Insurance credit tiers factor in your official credit scores but are not dependent on that variable alone. The following states do not allow credit to be a factor in determining auto insurance rates: CA, HI, MA
These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes.