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Bad Credit Scores Could Affect Auto Insurance [AUDIO]

Your credit score could have consequences past credit cards and home loans as auto insurance companies are also using it to determine rates.

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A report from InsuranceQuotes.com found drivers with bad credit paid up to 91 percent more than those with the best scores, and drivers with average scores paid 24 percent more.

The process of looking at credit scores by auto insurers isn’t new, according to Chuck Leitteb, Vice President of the Insurance Council of New Jersey, with forty states nationwide doing it.

“It can be one of many factors when a company underwrites a policy, but it can’t be a sole factor to base rates on,” Leitteb said.

He said because insurance underwriting is all about risk, and a person’s credit score gives companies a preview of the potential cost they’d be incurring.

“There have been numerous national studies that have been conducted that show, people who handle their finances in a responsible manner are less likely to file claims,” Leitteb explained.

The practice cannot be used in all instances. Leitteb said the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance has stated in instances where a person has no credit score, it can’t be used against them in a policy.

“There’s also a policy called the basic policy which is a low cost policy. They cannot use credit score on those policies because the people who purchase them tend to have less economic means,” he said.

Another important provision set up by the Department of Banking and Insurance is one preventing traumatic life events from harming policy holders, such as a catastrophic illness or an injury, a death of a spouse, child or parent, temporary loss of their job.

“Those life events they can let their insurance company know and that adverse credit for a period of time cannot be considered.” Leitteb said.

Other factors that can affect insurance policies are age, gender, driving record, and past claims.

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