(BPT) - People think of their credit scores when measuring their "creditworthiness," like when they're looking to take out a loan, buy a home or open a new credit card. But did you know your insurance credit score can affect your auto insurance premiums too?
Before auto insurers take you on as a policyholder, they might use your credit score as an indicator to evaluate how likely you are to file a claim. If your score doesn’t fit within their standards, you may get charged a higher premium. On the other hand, some insurance scores are loss ratio models, so they actually rank you based on the probability that you’ll be a more profitable customer.
According to Consumer Reports, the difference in auto insurance premiums related to credit scores can be significant. Drivers who only have "good" scores can end up paying from $68 to more than $500 more annually in comparison to those who have excellent scores.
Moreover, it’s important to know that your credit score is not the only factor that determines your premiums. According to Experian, if you live in Hawaii, California, Massachusetts or Michigan, auto insurers can’t even use your credit information to determine auto insurance premium.
What matters most for your premiums
Insurance companies say that a person's credit scores help them to better predict their risk of insurance losses. While a score evaluation can seem like a broad judgment, there are often certain factors auto insurers will look at when determining your monthly premium, such as:
How long you've had credit
This holds for most insurers and lenders. The longer a person has credit and keeps that credit in good standing, the higher their score. However, while people who've had credit longer can stand a good chance at getting a lower premium, it’s not a guarantee. Insurance companies may still view you as a risk if, for example, you have an excellent credit history but a poor driving history.
Your payment history
When you sign up for auto insurance, your provider wants to gauge whether you are in financial stress or not and how likely it is that you will file a claim. So if you regularly pay your bills when they’re due and don’t have any missed or delinquent payments reflected on your score, you should be OK.
However, with life's unexpected twists and turns, sometimes it's hard to maintain a healthy credit score, even if your score is historically excellent and you are seen as low risk. Fortunately, many auto insurers understand this and will offer you a reconsideration for the amount of your premium for what they call “extraordinary circumstances.” Some of those circumstances may include:
- Serious illness/injury
- Temporary and involuntary loss of employment
- Military deployment
Situations often vary and insurers often have different policy guidelines. If you're curious, contact your insurer to see what circumstances they do and don’t consider.
The types of credit you have
Auto insurers, like lenders, want to see the correlation between various factors, such as a good credit mix and a lower credit risk.
Get your credit report before you apply
Applying for insurance can feel daunting. But when you have the right credit information in your hands, you should be able to get a better idea of what to expect. Generally speaking, a strong credit score can help you qualify for lower insurance premiums when you shop around.
Check your free VantageScore credit score here: https://vantagescore.com/consumers/education/tools/free-credit-scores.