Your Credit Scores and Car Insurance Rates: The Difference between 760 and 600

“Do you know what your credit score is?” Perhaps you have heard or read phrases like this from a company telling you how important it is to check your credit score. But why is your credit score important? Your credit score affects your ability to rent an apartment, get a loan, buy a car; it even impacts your car insurance rates. Car insurance companies have found a direct correlation between a person’s credit score and the likelihood of filing a claim. Insurance companies use what’s called an “insurance score,” which is a numerical ranking based on a person’s credit history.
Good or Bad—Your Credit Affects Your Auto Insurance
Many people might be unaware about how their insurance score affects their car insurance rates.

Some consumers are disturbed by the fact that, when applying for insurance, one insurer will reject an application based on an applicant’s insurance score, yet another company will find it acceptable. This underscores the importance of shopping around for car insurance.

What is a Good Credit Score?
A good score is typically above 760 and a bad score is below 600. Many people have no idea they are beneficiaries of insurance scoring. Insurers say more than 50% of policyholders have a lower premium because of good credit.

How to Maintain a Good Credit Record
Pay Your Bills on Time: Pay all of your bills on time. Late payments and delinquent accounts can have a major negative impact on credit scores, as well as give creditors the right to increase your interest rates. Your goal should be to build a long history of reliable bill paying behavior.

Only Carry a Few Credit Cards: Limit yourself to a maximum of three or four cards and keep your balances low. Use no more than 30% of your available credit at any given time and try to pay off your balance in full whenever possible. If you decide to crack down on your credit card usage by cutting up a credit card, go ahead and do it. However, don’t close the account as this will raise your balance-to-credit-limit ratio, and can have a negative impact on your credit score.

Check Your Credit Report Annually: Look for errors and correct them as soon as possible. By law, you are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three reporting agencies once a year. You can request your free annual credit report from the only online authorized website, AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling the toll free number 1-877-322-8228. Also, if you apply for credit and are turned down, you have a right to request a free credit report from the agency used by the creditor. If you would like additional information regarding credit scores, or would like to purchase your own FICO® credit score used by most lenders, visit MyFico.com.

Make sure you keep your credit under control. Since car insurance providers use your credit score differently, make sure you compare multiple car insurance quotes when buying your policy.

Holiday Season DUI's: How Much Your Insurance Rates Will Celebrate

Tis the season to be Jolly. But it is also the season to be safe on the roadways. Nothing could change your Holiday spirit to bedlam faster then a DUI. Every year there are nearly 17,000 alcohol related traffic fatalities; or one death every 31 minutes. The social and financial implications of a DUI can be devastating; from expensive lawyer fees, to bail, and other court fees. MADD estimates a DUI could cost a first time offender over $10,000. A DUI conviction could double, or even triple your current car insurance rates. Shopping around for car insurance rates after a DUI is the best way to find an affordable car insurance rate and help you move past a DUI.

A DUI’s Impact on Your Car Insurance
All emotions aside: a DUI dramatically increases the degree of risk an insurance company assumes in order to underwrite your car insurance policy. After a DUI, you will be categorized as a high risk driver and can expect your current premiums to double—if your carrier doesn’t just simply non-renew your policy.

MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) reports that the average first time DUI offender can expect his/her car insurance rates to range between $3,600 and $6,600 a year. Depending on how long a DUI remains on your state’s driving record, these rates are known to continue for up to 7 years. Furthermore, any additional accidents and tickets (past or future) can easily make the situation exponentially more difficult—like tripled insurance costs!

Other Mandatory Costs of a DUI
Aside from increased car insurance rates, there are many other financial implications that come with a DUI. Unless you live in a major city, there really is no substitute to driving. From the perspective of life’s real world priorities, being able to drive ranks just below air, water, food, and shelter. Salvaging this privilege after a DUI though involves more than just expensive car insurance rates. Depending on the state you live in, additional costs can include:

• Towing: $300 - $1,200
• Bail: $250 - $2,500
• Fines and Court Fees: $500 - $2,500
• Attorney Fees (average): $2,500
• Mandatory Education and Treatment: $350 - $2,000
• Electronic Home Monitoring: $150 - $2,250
• Ignition Lock: $730 - $2,800
Total Cost: approximately $10,828

What the above estimates fail to account for are the daylight hours it takes to satisfy all the corresponding obligations. Time spent in court, at classes and treatment, restitution services, and even jail time can turn a person’s world upside-down. Interestingly, states like Washington make matters more complicated by automatically suspending driving privileges for 90 days upon the first offence. Think of how you would even get to court?

Furthermore, since a DUI is criminal offence, your driving record will be complemented by a criminal record. If your vocation values the integrity of such a mark (medical, transportation, finance, etc.) finding a new job can become as complicated as finding affordable car insurance.

Moving On After a DUI
Although a DUI is a mistake that ravishes a person’s finances, it is possible to bounce back after a conviction. Every day that passes after your DUI conviction can lower your rates, because older charges have less of an impact on your risk profile, especially if you were a teenager or young adult at the time of your conviction. Comparison shopping for car insurance is essential for a driver with a DUI on their record.

Although you won’t have as many options, don’t fall into the trap of signing on with the first company that approves your application. Conduct research, compare quotes, and make a careful decision. In the meantime, take a conservative approach to driving and don’t get any tickets or become involved in accidents. Party smart and enjoy your Holiday season.

10 Ways Your Car Insurance Can Help You Get Ahead in 2008

With the arrival of 2008 comes a new time to make resolutions, and hopefully keep them. While some may vow to quit smoking, lose 5 pounds, or start saving more money, this is the perfect time to start reaching your goals. One way to save some extra money that you might not be conscious of is lowering your car insurance rates. While comparing car insurance quotes is the best way to save money, there is still between 20% and 30% of the population that doesn’t comparison shop.* Here are InsWeb’s Top 10 Ways to Save on car insurance.
1. Shop and Compare Rates Every 6 Months
In 2008, if you check your car insurance rates in January, make sure your check them again in June. According to an independent study, people who compare rates and switch carriers at InsWeb.com save an average of $301* on a six month policy. Consider the savings over 12 months! Tickets or no tickets, you’re a different driver than you were last summer. Get updated quotes and see what your individual savings could be.

2. Select Higher Deductibles
Simply put, the higher your deductible, the lower your premium. Indeed the cost of an accident will be that much more expensive; however, if the damage is minor (grey zone in making accident claim), you’ll be spending the same out-of-pocket amount regardless.

3. Make a Cheaper Policy Even Cheaper: Don’t Pay in Monthly Installments
Additional administrative fees are commonly applied to payments when you split your premium in to installments (i.e. monthly, semi-annual, annual). Be aware that a monthly fee of even $7 can add up to $84 over 12 months.

4. Look for Multi-Line Insurance Discounts
The most under recognized car insurance discount results from the multi-line insurance policy: buying your auto insurance and your homeowners insurance from the same insurance company. According to the Insurance Information Institute, a multi-line policy can save you up to 15% on both premiums.

5. Collect on Your Good Driving
Most insurance companies reward good driving with lower premiums. In fact, in some states a good driving discount is required by law. If you haven't had any accidents or tickets in the last three to five years, shop at InsWeb.com and see whether you are missing out on this money savings discount.

6. Don't Overpay for Tickets
Unfortunately moving violations are an accurate reflection of your liability to an insurance company, and your rates can skyrocket as a result. Perhaps you deserve a higher rate, but don't let the insurance company unduly punish you. Shop around and see if you can find a more reasonable rate with another company.

7. Look for Safe Vehicle Discounts
Many companies offer discounts for various safety features on your vehicle, including air bags, alarms, factory-installed mechanical seatbelts and antilock brakes. In getting updated insurance quotes, be sure to indicate such safety features to benefit from available discounts.

8. Don't Overpay for Your Unnecessary Coverage
You may be paying for coverage that you don't need. For example, you may be a member of an auto club that provides towing services, yet you're also paying for towing on your auto insurance policy. Look for opportunities to eliminate unnecessary costs.

9. Look for a Good Student Discount or Senior Discount
Students currently enrolled in school often receive a discount on auto insurance for good grades, as many companies feel conscientious students make conscientious drivers. Similarly, insurance companies are known to value the wisdom of an experienced driver, offering discounts to drivers over 50 as a result.

10. Pay Less for Driving Less
Many insurance companies will offer discounts on vehicles that incur low annual mileage. In fact, some companies have a predetermined number of what they consider low mileage. Has your commute changed? If so, it might save you money to get an updated quote.