June 23, 2024
What is an insurance score?

 

There are many factors that go into determining your insurance rates — from where you live to the type of car you drive. One crucial component is your insurance credit score, which is used in many states to help determine your premiums. This metric is influenced by your credit history and other financial behaviors, providing insurers with a snapshot of your risk level. Bankrate can help you get under the hood and into the intricacies of what an insurance score entails, how it is calculated and why it plays an important role in determining the cost and availability of your insurance coverage.

 

What is an insurance score?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, insurance scores are confidential ratings calculated by insurance companies primarily by using data from your credit history. This score is used to help determine the likelihood that you will make an insurance claim in the future for both home and auto coverage in states where it is allowed.

 

Statistically speaking, those with higher credit scores are less likely to file a claim with their insurance company. As such, insurance companies use information from major credit rating bureaus to create their own rating system, akin to a credit score for insurance. Drivers and homeowners with higher credit-based insurance scores typically have higher rates.

 

Not all states allow the use of insurance scores as a factor for determining insurance rates.

The states that prohibit or restrict credit from being used as a car insurance rating factor are California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Michigan.

The states that prohibit credit from being used for homeowners insurance rates are California, Massachusetts and Maryland.

Why is an insurance score important?

Insurance scores play a significant role in calculating the cost of your insurance premiums, according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I). Insurance companies assess how much risk they incur to provide coverage to a customer. This expected cost, among other factors, is used to determine how much the company should charge a customer in premiums to avoid losing money.

 

Insurance and credit score data

The average credit score is 716. (Average credit scores by state)

49% of credit cardholders carry debt from month to month. (Bankrate Credit Card Debt Survey)

The baby boomer generation pays the least for auto insurance and they are also the least likely to have credit card debt with 44% carrying a balance month-to-month. (Bankrate auto insurance rates by age and Bankrate Credit Card Debt Survey)

How is an insurance score calculated?

Insurers use several factors to determine your insurance score. Many of these factors overlap with factors used to determine your credit score. Although some states require insurance companies to make their insurance scoring methods public, not all do. Some key factors that may influence your insurance score are your previous credit performance, outstanding debt, credit history length and pursuit of new credit. Exact factors that impact insurance scores will depend on your carrier’s underwriting policies, the state you live in and any third-party companies the insurer works with to source credit information.

 

What is a good insurance score?

Like credit scores, insurance scores improve as they increase. According to LexisNexis, a risk-focused data analytics company, insurance scores range from 200 to 997 in its scoring metric. Scores higher than 775 are considered good.

 

Insurance score chart

Score range Rating

776 – 977 Good

626 – 775 Average

501 – 625 Below average

200 – 500 Poor

How to improve your insurance score

Thankfully, there are many ways to potentially improve your insurance score. For the most part, strategies and techniques for improving credit scores will also increase your credit-based insurance score. The primary approach is to treat your credit and bills with as much financial responsibility as you can.

 

Here are some strategies that might help improve your credit-based insurance score:

 

Pay bills on time: Avoid late payments and missed payments. If you can afford to pay the full amount you owe each month, rather than just the minimum payment, it can also help keep your credit utilization ratio low.

Keep credit utilization low: Credit utilization refers to the amount of your available credit you use. A good benchmark figure is to keep this number below 30 percent of all your available credit.

Pay down debt quickly: If you have credit card debt, a car loan or other outstanding debt, you may want to make it a priority to pay it down as quickly as possible.

To see your credit score and track when and how much it is improving, you can go to www.annualcreditreport.com for free copies of your credit reports. When you use this link, you will be given copies of your credit report from each of the three primary credit bureaus. If your credit score is improving, it’s likely your insurance score is as well. Because of the pandemic, you are allowed to access your credit reports weekly through this site instead of annually, as had been the process previously. This will remain in effect through December 2023.

 

Shopping around may help you find the best rates, even if your credit history is less than perfect.

Making on-time payments with your existing credit obligations may help improve your credit score and, in turn, your insurance score.

Review any available discounts your insurer offers to make sure that you are taking advantage of any for which you are eligible.

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