Many consumers are aware that their credit reports may be used to determine employment and loan eligibility, but some may not know that car insurance rates are affected by credit history as well. While driving history remains a significant factor in rates, most insurance companies correlate healthy credit with a lower incidence of car accidents and claims, reports WSPA, a South Carolina CBS affiliate.
“For about a decade, most insurers have considered a customer’s credit history when setting rates,” Property Casualty Insurers Association of America spokesman Joseph Annotti told USA Today.
The association between a driver’s credit report and their likelihood of causing a car accident or filing a claim has encouraged many consumer groups to question the morality of their argument. Groups argue that poor credit history may not be specific to irresponsible consumers, but individuals who have suffered a job loss or medical emergency, USA Today reports.
“You can deny to have your credit score checked. Typically speaking what would happen in that case is either the company would say we can’t give you a quote without that, or they’ll give you the highest-rated quote assuming you have the lowest possible credit score,” Correll Insurance Group’s Jon Jensen told the news station.
Some consumers have received negative marks on their credit report for circumstances beyond their control, such as a severe medical emergency. In these circumstances, consumers are entitled to include a consumer statement of 100 words or less to explain the cause of a low credit rating.
Consumers may also benefit from asking insurance companies what factors they use to determine insurance rates, suggests USA Today. If a consumer knows they have a blemished credit report, they may be able to find an insurance group that does not weigh credit history too heavily. On the opposite end, consumers who have positive credit ratings may benefit from low insurance rates.
Negative credit marks typically remain on a consumer’s credit report for seven years. Individuals can improve their credit standing by paying all bills on time, using less than 50 percent of their available credit and not applying for additional lines of credit. Consumers should also regularly monitor their credit reports for any inaccuracies.