Most drivers probably know that if they get into an accident, their insurance rates are also likely to take a hit. But a new analysis by Consumer Reports finds that your car insurance premiums are increasingly based on factors such as your credit score that are unrelated to your driving record.
How well you drive may actually have little connection to how much you pay for insurance, the consumer group found.
In a two-year investigation, Consumer Reports analyzed more than 2 billion insurance price quotes obtained from more than 700 insurers across the country. It found that in many states a bad credit history will drive up your insurance premiums more than a drunk driving conviction.
“What we found is that behind the rate quotes is a pricing process that judges you less on driving habits and increasingly on socioeconomic factors,” the consumer organization reports. “These include your credit history, whether you use department-store or bank credit cards, and even your TV provider. Those measures are then used in confidential and often confounding scoring algorithms.”
Consumer Reports says it found that most car insurance companies use about 30 elements of the nearly 130 available in a credit report to construct their own secret score for policyholders, and that credit scores could have more of an impact on premiums than any other factor. Drivers with the best credit scores were charged up to $526 less than similar drivers with only “good” scores, depending on where they lived. Only three states — California, Hawaii and Massachusetts — prohibit insurers from factoring in credit scores when setting prices.
Drivers are legally required to carry car insurance, but the lack of pricing transparency makes it harder for them to make informed decisions about which policy to buy. “Because insurance companies are under no obligation to tell you what score they have cooked up for you, you have no idea whether you have a halo over your head or a bull’s-eye on your back for a price increase,” Consumer Reports says.
Industry advertising that promotes special discounts, such as for bundling home and car insurance, only muddles the purchasing process because those special deals don’t actually save people much money, Consumer Reports found.
The organization says it’s high time for truth in car insurance, and it’s asking consumers to sign a petition demanding that insurers -- and the state regulators who oversee them -- use price-setting practices that are tied to more meaningful factors, like driving records. It is also asking consumers to tweet the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, @NAIC_News, and tell them to “Price me by how I drive, not by who you think I am! #FixCarInsurance.”
For more information on state-by-state insurance premiums, or to sign the Consumer Reports petition, go to ConsumerReports.org/FixCarinsurance.
Top Reads From The Fiscal Times:
- Americans Are About to Get a Nice Fat Pay Raise
- How Millenials Could Damage the U.S. Economy
- The Pain the Job Numbers Don’t Show
The stark and growing divide between urban/suburban and rural districts was one big story in this year’s election results, with Democrats gaining seats in the House as a result of their success in suburban areas. The GOP tax law may have helped drive that trend, Yahoo Finance’s Brian Cheung notes.
The new tax law capped the amount of state and local tax deductions Americans can claim in their federal filings at $10,000. Congressional seats for nine of the top 25 districts where residents claim those SALT deductions were held by Republicans heading into Election Day. Six of the nine flipped to the Democrats in last week’s midterms.
Ten companies, including nine pharmaceutical giants, accounted for half of the health care industry's $50 billion in worldwide profits in the third quarter of 2018, according to an analysis by Axios’s Bob Herman. Drug companies generated 23 percent of the industry’s $636 billion in revenue — and 63 percent of the total profits. “Americans spend a lot more money on hospital and physician care than prescription drugs, but pharmaceutical companies pocket a lot more than other parts of the industry,” Herman writes.
Federal, state and local governments spent about $441 billion on infrastructure in 2017, with the money going toward highways, mass transit and rail, aviation, water transportation, water resources and water utilities. Measured as a percentage of GDP, total spending is a bit lower than it was 50 years ago. For more details, see this new report from the Congressional Budget Office.
The GOP tax cuts have provided a significant earnings boost for the big U.S. banks so far this year. Changes in the tax code “saved the nation’s six biggest banks $3.3 billion in the third quarter alone,” according to a Bloomberg report Thursday. The data is drawn from earnings reports from Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo.