Would it surprise you to find out that your late bill payments are likely affecting your insurance rates? They are, in fact, related. If you regularly make late payments, have been sent to collections for unpaid bills, or have high credit card debt, your wallet's going to take a hit when premiums are due. Improving your FICO, or credit score, can help you get better car insurance rates.
Understanding Credit-based Insurance Scores
Insurance companies use insurance scoring to help determine your insurance rates. Your credit information is one factor that is considered when determining your insurance score. Studies show a link between your score and your likelihood of filing an insurance claim. While that may seem odd, research has shown that people with higher credit scores are less likely to file a claim. The reverse is true for those with lower scores. Believing that there will be less payout, companies are going to offer you a better rate if you have a higher FICO score.
Improving Your Score
So, what do you do if you fall into the poor credit rating category? Have hope and get to work, because you don't have to stay there. You can raise your score. It will take time and effort, but it's definitely possible. Here are 7 steps that will lead you to improved credit.
1. Determine that you will do what it takes. Half an effort will not make the difference you need to improve your credit-based insurance score. You are going to have to change some of your behaviors. You will probably have to give some things up to do that. It's worth it, so make the commitment.
2. Establish a credit history. If you are young or haven't used credit a lot, you will not have much of a credit history. Having credit is essential to building a credit history. You can do this in a healthy way.
- Get a credit card and use it for a set monthly expense like groceries or utility payments. Paying for something that you already have in your budget means you will have the money available to pay off the balance each month. Don't forget to make that payment.
- Purchase a small item on credit. This opens a credit line but keeps the commitment minimal.
3. Make all of your payments on time. This includes your housing payments, car payments, utilities, medical bills, and any loans or credit accounts. Keeping your open accounts in good standing will be a significant move in increasing your score.
4. Decrease your debt. High debt makes it appear as though you don't make enough money to meet your needs. Carefully assess the wants in your life that you are spending money on. How can you decrease those expenditures? Will you cancel a subscription? Can you skip your morning coffee? Is it possible to decrease your wardrobe fund? Use the money you will save and follow the Debt Snowball Method to pay down your debts.
5. Restart your payments on debts that have been sent to collection. Contact companies that have sent your debt to a collections agency. If you offer to restart your payments, they may halt the collections process.
6. Avoid having several inquiries on your credit report. Every time you apply for credit, it shows on your report. Avoid frivolously applying for credit. Also, make sure that companies are not checking your score until you are sure that you will do business with them.
7. Check your credit score once a year. Hopefully you won't find any problems, but mistakes do happen. You can't dispute a problem if you don't know it's there, so get your report and check it over carefully.
If you are diligent in your efforts, you will notice a consistent increase in your FICO score and your credit-based insurance score. That will result in lower insurance premiums. For more tips on lowering your insurance prices, contact a local insurance broker.