You consider yourself to be one of the safest drivers on the road. You watch the speed limit, always use your turn signal even when changing lanes, and the only tickets you have ever gotten were from expired parking meters. You have the cleanest of clean driving records, so one would think that you would be a top candidate for lower car insurance rates, especially lower than that jerk who whizzed past you this morning in a school zone, right?
Wrong, or at least not necessarily.
If your credit report has some blemishes on it, chances are good that you might not get the lowest car insurance rates, even despite the fact that your driving record is spotless. And thanks to a recent Supreme Court ruling, your car insurance company does not have to inform you that you are not getting the best rates. As ridiculous as that sounds, the Supreme Court recently overturned a Circuit Court ruling that said the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) requires insurers to notify customers whenever their credit rating prevents them from getting the best available car insurance rate. More on this website
Auto insurance companies argue that a customer’s credit rating is just one of many criteria they use to establish car insurance rates for the customer. They said that if the ruling had stood, it would have required them to send out millions of notices to customers in order to avoid class-action lawsuits.
For about the last 10 years or so, most car insurance companies have used the customer’s credit rating when establishing car insurance rates for the customer. They claim that various studies have indicated that customers with bad credit are much more likely to file claims.
The car insurance companies claim that a credit report “is a solid predictor of risk”, and after all, car insurance rates are all about risk. They further claim that a person with bad credit would tend to be more irresponsible since they have demonstrated irresponsibility with their credit and would likely also be irresponsible with their driving habits. More here
Obviously, consumer groups disagree wholeheartedly and say that this assumption on the part of the auto insurance companies is a “disturbing moral hypothesis”. Many people have bad credit because of divorce, being laid off from a job, serious illness, and is absolutely no reflection on their level of responsibility.
In addition, credit reports are known to be notorious for errors. Studies have shown that an alarmingly high percentage of consumer credit reports contain errors. The credit bureaus claim that they only report the news and take almost no responsibility for the accuracy of the information reported. The sad outcome of that reality is the vast majority of consumers do not regularly check their credit reports, and if they do, they have no idea of how to get inaccurate data corrected. For information about how to get inaccurate data removed from your credit report so that your credit rating is higher, you may wish to visit Raising Your Credit Score for more information.
When you are applying for auto insurance, ask the insurance company what specific factors will be considered when they determine your rates. If they tell you that your credit history is one of the factors and you know that your credit history has blemishes on it, you may want to keep on shopping with another carrier.