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Informed Customers Pay Much Less for Insurance

February 10, 2013 by  
Filed under Finance

It is widely known that insurance companies use factors such as your age, sex, and marital status to determine how much you are going to pay for your homeowner’s and auto insurance. What you may not know is that your insurance company is most likely using information found in your credit report as well. In fact, the single biggest factor in your premium is usually what the insurance industry refers to as your insurance score, and that insurance score is calculated from information found in your credit report. Your insurance score is not tied to your credit score. You can’t always be sure that your insurance score is good just because you have a good credit score or because you’ve not had any obvious negative information on your credit report such as a late payment.

Even though more than 90% of insurance companies use an insurance score in some way, most people are completely unaware that it’s affecting them. The reason that most people aren’t aware of this is because the insurance companies have not made this public information. The practice is as controversial as it is effective. Insurance companies have made millions of extra dollars by using this method of rate development but much of that would be lost if they were completely honest about this practice. They would have to hire extra employees to take phone calls from upset customers. They would also lose customers to the few companies that don’t yet use credit information in their rating practices.

State governments are now passing legislation that requires insurance companies to notify their customers if credit information was used to generate their rates and if the best possible rate wasn’t achieved as a result. Many insurance companies chose to ignore this legislation due to the increased cost of notifying their customers and the potential that notifying them may make them angry enough to look elsewhere for insurance. Allstate and Progressive insurance companies were recently involved in multi-million dollar class action lawsuits for failing to notify customers as they are now required to do.

Since it is likely that your rates are being calculated by using an insurance score, there are a few steps that you should take to make certain that your score is as high as it can possibly be. First, check your renewal paperwork that your insurance carrier sends you. There should be a statement enclosed informing you of how your insurance score is affecting your rates. However, if there is no disclosure enclosed that does not mean that an insurance score is not being used. Second, you should pull copies of your credit reports annually to make certain that there is no erroneous information in them. An error can cost you hundreds of dollars. Third, you should make sure that you pay your bills on time, close any unused accounts, and don’t open accounts that you don’t need.

Insurance scores are much more complex than credit scores. Simply paying your bills on time just isn’t enough. Insurance scores use information such as what types of accounts you have, how long you have had them, and how many total accounts you have. Companies such as specialize in helping people improve their insurance scores. For a one-time fee they will analyze your credit reports, tell you exactly what you can do to improve your score, tell you how to make sure that your score stays high, and how you can use your improved score to save hundreds of dollars on each of your insurance renewals.

Being well informed and taking some preventative actions is often the difference between paying a high rate and saving lots of money on your homeowner’s and auto insurance. With many insurance companies customers with high insurance scores pay up to 54% less for their insurance than a customer with a below-average score.

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