You may have a stellar driving record with no accidents or other issues, such as speeding, that might increase your insurance rates. Yet, you may not qualify for the low premium rates you believe you deserve unless you also have a stellar credit rating. As important as claims history may seem in determining insurance rates, insurance companies consider financial responsibility to be a major determinant of your likelihood to file claims. As such, your credit rating is a vital factor in a process known as insurance scoring.
New Jersey law provides protections to help insurance consumers obtain fair prices for their coverage. The New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) asserts that insurance scoring provides consumers with choices in companies, products and price. The Department created safeguards to protect policyholder interests, including (but not limited to) the following:
Strict notification requirements are imposed on auto insurance companies to make sure policyholders know about the scoring practice and the factors that affect scores.
Insurers cannot use insurance scoring as the sole factor when determining rates, and they must submit their scoring model to the Department.
Insurance scoring is prohibited under certain circumstances, including policyholders with a seven-year history with a company when they had no claims or violations during that period.
Exceptions must be granted for consumers who have a lower credit rating directly influenced by extraordinary life events, so only factors not related to those events are considered for insurance scoring purposes.
Even with these protections in place, it is important to take advantage of the free annual credit histories offered by the three major credit agencies ? Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, especially before shopping for a new policy. You may need to correct errors in these reports to obtain the best price. However, if you believe an insurance carrier is unfairly elevating its quotes, an attorney may be able to intervene or help you submit a complaint with DOBI.
While most reputable insurance companies play by the rules, they can engage in unfair or illegal practices when issuing policies — or when paying claims.