How Credit Scores Impact Car Insurance Rates

How's your credit score? Insurers may be using your credit score to set your car insurance rates. Learn how they do it here.
Man checking his credit score.

Your credit score or rating is an unfortunate but necessary part of modern life. Getting a loan for your house, leasing a car, or applying for a bank card are all times when your financial standing plays a crucial role. But it can also impact the cost pf auto insurance. The worse it is, the higher your premium.

Insurers use many factors to determine your rates. These factors are usually small facts about you and your driving history. These details help them assess your risk as a customer and driver. Your credit history is one of the first things insurance companies consider. Other common rate factors include:

You should note that some states outlaw credit scores as a rate factor. The reason is that there’s a debate about the fairness of using it over other pricing methods, such as your driving record or claim history. The following states have banned or limited insurers’ use of your financial standing:

This article will equip you with the basics of credit scores as a rate factor. This includes the following key information:

  • Why insurers use credit ratings
  • How they use it
  • Credit rating vs. insurance score
  • Why some states don’t allow this practice
  • How to raise your credit score

Why Insurers Use Credit Scores

Bank card companies and banks use your score to see how reliable you’ll be. Similarly, insurers will use your credit history to decide if you’ll be reliable in paying your monthly bill. If your financial standing is poor, it may indicate that you won’t pay your insurance bill on time.

Lower Scores Indicate a Higher Likelihood of Accidents

Per the Insurance Information Institute (III), research suggests that having a lower credit score shows a high potential for getting into an accident. This is because a low rating displays less financial and personal responsibility. Insurers use your history because of these statistics. They also do it because of how reliable (or unreliable) it paints you as a customer.

How Insurers Use Credit Scores

Insurance companies use your credit rating as a way to determine your risk. If all of the rate factors and data point to you being more of a liability, you’ll either not be able to buy coverage or your premium will be expensive.

Extremely low credit scores will likely result in you having high rates. Your provider may require that you purchase expensive high-risk coverage because of this. These non-standard policies are for drivers that insurers believe expose them to a higher degree of risk.

Credit Score vs. Insurance Score

There are two types of scores that many people refer to in finance, credit and insurance. You may also see providers refer to the latter as credit-based. This can cause plenty of confusion if you’re researching the two terms.

Below are definitions for each term and the differences between them:

Credit Score

Your FICO score is a number that generates based on your credit report, which shows information about your previous loans and accounts with borrowers. Lenders audit your rating before giving you any money.

Credit-Based Insurance Score

Carriers will usually use a credit-based insurance score to help determine your premium. They’re meant to predict future losses. If yours shows that you’re at a higher risk to produce losses or file claims, your rates are likely to be high. Several different companies produce these scores for insurers to access and use.

Here’s what usually makes up a credit-based insurance score:

  • Payment history. This shows all of the payments you’ve made in the past and whether you’ve been reliable in making them. Insurers refer to not making payments as delinquencies.
  • Current debt. This will show how much outstanding debt you currently have.
  • Recent credit. The amount you’ve applied for or received recently.
  • Length of history. How long your borrowing history is. This also shows the length of each line of loan that you’ve had.
  • Credit type. This will show the type of credit you’ve had in the past (e.g., bank cards, loans, mortgages, and car leases).

Insurers will use the information above to determine your rates. They’ll also use it to assess whether they want you as a customer or not. It’s important to note that your age, gender, marital status, ethnicity, address, and income factor into your credit-based insurance score.

Why States Prohibit the Use of Credit Scores

The practice of using credit scores as a rate factor is a widely debated subject. Many feel the use of these in the insurance industry is unfair. For this reason, some states don’t allow the use of your borrowing history as a pricing factor.

One reason many believe using credit scores is unfair is that it doesn’t necessarily show you’re prone to getting into car accidents. Another is that a consumer rating doesn’t correlate with accident frequency as much as your driving record. Drivers with poor financial history but a clean driving record could pay much more than bad drivers with good track record. At least in theory. This thinking has led some states to steer insurers away from this practice.

While some states don’t allow insurers to use your credit score, they limit or prohibit it in different ways. Here’s a list of each state that prohibits or limits using your rating for insurance and how they do it:


Your rating won’t affect your insurance rates in The Golden State. California prohibits the use of credit to determine home and auto premiums. They also don’t let insurers use your borrowing history to make underwriting choices. This includes deciding to cancel or deny a policy based on your score.


Like California, Hawaii bans providers from using your credit score as a rate factor. The Aloha State has also outlawed using these scores to make any underwriting decisions, such as canceling or denying your policy. But keep in mind that they do let insurers use it to make decisions for homeowners coverage.


Maryland allows insurers to use your credit score for pricing, but forbid them from using it as a way to make any underwriting decisions. In other words, they can’t refuse to sell you coverage because of your financial history, but your premium may be much higher if the rating is low.


In Massachusetts, your credit score isn’t a factor in determining your premium. Just like many of the other states on this list, insurers in Massachusetts can’t use your history as a way to cancel, deny, or non-renew your policy.


Michigan bans insurers from using your credit rating to help select your rates. Providers also may not prevent you from buying coverage if your score is low.


Oregon insurers aren’t able to use your credit rating to deny you coverage, but can use them to determine your rates. Though, they’re only able to use certain info from your credit-based insurance report. Be sure to speak with your agent about what financial info your carrier uses.


Utah allows insurers to use your credit score as a rate factor. The difference in Utah is that it can only gain you a discount. It won’t cause your insurance bill to rise. After you’ve been a customer for 60 days, your provider can’t use your financial history as a way to deny, cancel, or non-renew your policy.

Washington State

Washington State prohibits insurers from using credit scores as a rate factor. On June 20, 2021, The Washington legislature passed a law that banning this practice. This law is in effect for three years after the COVID-19 pandemic is officially over (the government would be the one to declare it as over).

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get a better credit-based score?

The best way to improve your credit rating or insurance score is to maintain a level of financial responsibility. Here are the best ways to achieve that:

  • Don’t miss any payments
  • Have a long banking payment history with little to no mistakes. Show that you’re reliable.
  • Have current credit that’s in good standing with lenders.
  • Avoid outstanding debt if you can help it. More debt can put you even further underwater.

Is your insurance score the same as your credit rating?

The short answer is no. Your insurance score is a set of information about you and your financial history. Insurers use it to figure out how risky of a driver and customer you are. A rating is simply a number that a credit report produces. The higher the number, the more reliable you are with handling debt.

What is a good credit score for car insurance?

Insurers most likely use the same categorizations as credit reporting companies in terms of what defines a good or bad score. Here is an example of how Experian defines users based on financial history:

  • 800-850 – Exceptional
  • 740-799 – Very good
  • 670-739 – Good
  • 580-669 – Fair
  • 300-579 – Poor

Do quotes affect your credit score?

Quotes don’t affect your credit rating because insurers use what’s called a “soft inquiry” to check your overall financial record. This differs from a “hard inquiry” that occurs when you apply for a bank card or take out a loan.


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