What Is an Insurance Score?
A credit-based insurance score is a three-digit score your insurance company assigns to you based on your credit report. Most insurers consider customers with high insurance scores as less likely to file an insurance claim, so they typically offer them lower premiums. Conversely, they offer customers with low insurance scores higher rates.
Insurance scores and credit scores are similar but different. Insurance companies use insurance scores to determine the likelihood of you filing a claim and making regular payments, while lenders use credit scores to predict the likelihood of you repaying what you borrow.
Keep reading to see how insurance scores work and why they matter.
How Does an Insurance Score Work?
Insurance companies create insurance scores to better understand the risk profile of a potential or existing customer. To calculate your insurance score, your insurance company pulls your credit report from one or more national credit bureaus, such as Equifax, Experian, Transunion or LexisNexis. The scoring process considers your credit history length, how many credit accounts you have and your total outstanding debt, among other factors.
The general idea behind credit-based insurance scores is that a person who responsibly manages their finances will also responsibly manage their insurance policies. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), somebody with a low insurance score is statistically more likely to file an insurance claim. Since your credit report is tied to your financial habits, your credit report helps insurers assess your risk profile.
Your insurance score is an important consideration during the underwriting and rating process. The underwriting process helps determine whether you will qualify for a policy through that insurance company. The rating process calculates what premium you will pay based on your risk. Since high insurance scores suggest lower risk, these customers tend to have lower premiums. Conversely, low insurance scores suggest higher risk, resulting in higher premiums.
However, this does not mean that a high insurance score directly causes a low premium — the relationship is only a correlation. Insurance scores are only one of several factors that insurance companies consider when determining your premiums. Auto insurers may also consider your vehicle's model and accident history when determining your rates. Home insurance companies may look at your home's age, location and vulnerability to natural disasters and more.
What's the difference between an insurance score and a credit score?
Insurance scores and credit scores share several similarities Both are based on your credit report and they determine rates. Below, we highlight key differences and similarities.
Used by insurance companies
Used by financial institutions (usually lenders and credit card companies)
Helps insurance underwriters predict an individual's risk of insurance losses
Helps financial institutions predict the likelihood of an individual repaying debt fully and timely.
Scores typically range from 200 to 997
Scores typically range from 300 to 850
Scores help indicate your overall risk
Higher scores typically result in lower rates (usually monthly premiums for insurers or interest rates for lenders)
Score calculated based on information from your credit report (e.g., outstanding debt, delinquencies, credit history, timely payments)
Why Is an Insurance Score Important?
Credit-based insurance scores help create pricing that more accurately reflects the risk a customer poses. According to the III, those with high insurance scores are less likely to file a claim, which is why these customers tend to pay less in insurance premiums. Those with good financial habits are rewarded with increased savings.
Without credit-based insurance scores, a low-risk customer may share the cost of insuring their higher-risk fellow policyholder. Insurance scores help ensure that your good financial habits are factored into your insurance premiums.
How Are Insurance Scores Calculated?
Insurance companies will either have an in-house insurance scoring model or they will purchase models already developed by a third-party credit vendor, such as the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), TransUnion or LexisNexis. Insurance scores will generally range from 200 to 997. However, the calculations for producing that score and the score range will vary based on what scoring model is used. Also, there may also be a different scoring model based on the type of policy. For instance, a home insurance policy is scored differently from an auto insurance policy.
Factors calculated into insurance score models include:
Public records (e.g., bankruptcies, foreclosures, liens)
Number of inquiries
Number of open accounts
Total outstanding debt
Credit utilization ratio (how much you owe divided by your total credit limit)
Length of credit history
Here is an example of the criteria FICO uses for insurance scoring:
Not considered in an insurance score
Your insurance score will typically not consider:
Race or national origin
Salary or occupation
Other information outside your credit report
The above factors are generally not considered in your insurance score but some may still be considered during the insurance underwriting and rating process. Auto insurance companies may still consider age because younger drivers tend to have less driving experience and more accidents. Home insurance companies may consider location because certain areas are more prone to crime or natural disasters than others.
What Is Considered a Good Insurance Score?
On a range from 200 to 997, a score of 770 or higher is typically considered a good insurance score. Insurance companies tend to look unfavorably on scores of 500 and below. However, the exact threshold for poor, fair and good scores will vary by the insurance company and the scoring model used.
500 and below
Ways To Improve Your Insurance Score
Here are some tips to improve your insurance score (and your credit score):
Clear up errors on your credit report: Most errors reported to a credit bureau are addressed within 30 days. If it improves your score, you may ask your insurance company to re-underwrite and re-rate you, which could lower your insurance premium. Some insurers may even re-score you and exclude disputed information while the credit bureau investigation is ongoing.
Pay your bills timely: Showing a history of paying your bills in full and on time may positively affect your insurance score.
Maintain a low balance: Generally, you will want to avoid high outstanding debt when possible.
Pay down debt: If you have high outstanding balances, chipping away at your debt may improve your score over time.
Keep a low credit utilization: Your credit utilization ratio compares your outstanding balance to your total available balance. Insurance scoring looks at low credit utilization ratios more favorably.
Consult a professional: Consider meeting with a financial planner to learn smart financial habits or a debt consultant to better manage your debt.
Be patient: Delinquencies and inquiries may take years to fall off your credit report. Being patient while maintaining good financial habits may lead to higher credit scores and insurance scores over time.
Find the Coverage You Need at the Price You Want
Different insurance companies may use different insurance scoring models when determining your premiums, and you never know which model will rate you better unless you shop around. SmartFinancial can help find the coverage you need at the best price. Whether it's home, auto, health or life insurance, we compare rates and coverages in your area among our 200+ insurance partners. Just enter your zip code and answer a few questions to get started.