Your credit score has a big impact on your life. It can affect things like buying a car, receiving a loan, applying for credit lines, or getting your mortgage. But what you may not be aware of is it can also affect your insurance premiums.
How does my credit score affect my ratings?
It is fairly simply to understand. Individuals with a bad credit score see an increase in premiums as they are determined to be more likely to file a claim. Individuals with a good credit score, which is the majority of Canadians, actually benefit from the credit scoring and receive lower premiums or discounts. These individuals are perceived to be less likely to submit a claim. Without credit scoring the majority of Canadians with good credit would be subsidizing the costs of those with lower credit scores, meaning the majority would be paying more for their insurance. As you can imagine, not everyone appreciates that model or is comfortable with their insurance company pulling their credit score. It is important to note that you do have the option to decline that report and that not all companies use credit scoring. However, if you do not consent to a company using your credit score your rates can be far worse than what they would be if you allowed the credit scoring.
Car Insurance and Credit Scores
In Ontario, auto insurers are banned from ever using this information. This is because it is mandated by law that you must carry automobile insurance, which is different than any other insurance products. If you have your home and auto insurance with the same company they may run your credit score for your property but cannot use that information on your auto insurance policy.
Home Insurance and Credit Scores
Unlike auto insurance, your credit score can be used to help determine your home insurance premium. Insurance companies are all about looking at historical data. For years they have found that there is a very strong correlation between credit scores and an individual’s likelihood to file a claim. On the flip side they found individuals with good credit scores have been found to be much less likely to file a claim, especially if it is a fraudulent claim. As a result their premiums can be much less. Again you are able to decline a credit score or ask your insurer not to pull it but this typically results in much higher premiums.
Claims and Credit Scores
When it comes to claims it is important to know that the insurance company is not able to run your credit score. In fact an insurance company violated that term after a client got in a car insurance accident and Canadian regulators came down hard on them. Credit scoring is simply used as another indicator to provide a more individualized rate for the consumer.
How to maintain a good credit score
- Pay your bills in full and on time. This is the most important and easiest step to ensure your credit score remains good. Most credit card companies provide an online or mobile reminder to notify you when a payment is due. Turn it on so you don’t miss it.
- Do not open and close credit cards regularly. The length of time you hold a credit card for also plays a role in determining your credit score. If you cycle through them regularly that will negatively impact your rating.
- Don’t go over your limit. Going over your credit limit can cause your credit score to decrease.
- Seek assistance from a credit counsellor if you are struggling to keep up with your payments or know you are not going to be able to make ends meet.