Insurance risk score

Why does credit affect car insurance?

Even with a flawless driving record, you could get a hike in your insurance rate after the insurance company runs a credit check. Insurers use the information on your credit report to create their own insurance credit score for you, and use it when pricing coverage. Those with poor credit typically pay more for car insurance than those with good or excellent credit. Here we explain why and provide average rate increases by state for drivers with poor credit, as well as tips on how to improve your score and still save on car insurance.

Why and how insurance companies use your credit information

Insurers say their data show a connection between credit history and the filing of claims. People who pay their bills on time on average file fewer and less costly claims than those with a lot of late payments or delinquencies. That means drivers with poor credit generally cost insurance companies more money, so they are charged more for coverage.

Insurance companies don’t consider the same credit score that lenders do. They create their own credit score for drivers, using information from your credit history. The credit score used by lenders predicts your ability to repay a loan. A credit-based insurance score predicts whether you’ll file claims.

Insurance companies do, however, create their own insurance risk scores based on information from your credit report. The calculations are tweaked a bit but largely reflect your credit situation. Typically, a credit score of 700 or higher means your credit-based insurance score won’t be anything to worry about.

Many of the variables used to calculate an insurance score are the same as a standard credit score, such as outstanding debt, length of credit history, new credit applications and type of credit used.

How much does car insurance go up for poor credit?

Drivers with poor credit will pay, on average, 71 percent more (about $1,000 more a year) for a full coverage policy than drivers with good credit,’s rate analysis shows. Drivers with fair credit pay a rate that is 18 percent higher, on average, than those with good credit.

California, Hawaii and Massachusetts don’t allow insurers to use credit information to set rates. Michigan leads the nation among the worst states for drivers with bad credit.

Best car insurance for bad credit

Each insurance company assesses risk differently, so how much more you pay for various things such as an accident claim, traffic violation, or, in this case bad credit, will vary, sometimes significantly. Below you’ll see how major insurers compare on average price increases for drivers with poor credit. The increase is based on the difference between a driver with good credit and one with bad credit. You’ll see Victoria, which specializes in high-risk insurance, has the lowest percentage increase. But as in this case, carriers with the lowest increases for violations or poor credit may have a higher base rate, compared to others. Geico is actually the cheapest car insurance company for bad credit when looking at how much your pay.

Company Good Credit Rate Poor Credit Rate % Increase $ Increase
State Farm$1,400$3,012113%$1,613

Calculations are rounded. Rates were fielded by Quadrant Information Services from up to six major insurers in 10 ZIP codes in each state for a driver of a 2017 Honda Accord, age 40, with full coverage and a $500 deductible.

How to improve your credit-based insurance score

Using credit to calculate what drivers pay for insurance is controversial topic, as insurers argue it benefits all drivers by ensuring accurate pricing, while consumer advocates say it’s discriminatory and prevents those who need cheap car insurance the most from getting it. Still, there are ways to improve your insurance score, which will also eventually mean lower rates.

  • Pay your bills on time
  • Keep your credit card balances low– the insurance score considers the amount you owe in relation to your credit limits, so don’t max out your credit cards
  • Don’t open unnecessary credit accounts
  • Establish and maintain credit
  • Make sure your credit report is accurate — you can request free copies of your credit reports from the three national credit reporting agencies through

If you’re experiencing a financial hardship,  find free or low-cost help through the nonprofit National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

As your credit scores improve, your car insurance rates are likely to decline. You should consider pricing a new policy by doing a car insurance comparison at renewal time if you have seen a positive trend in your scores.

A good way to stay current on your consumer credit scores is to monitor them through a site such as Credit Karma. You can review your credit scores and credit reports for free.

California Car Insurance Rates by ZIP Code

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State Minimum: Required liability coverage to drive legally in your state; some states mandate additional coverage, such as personal injury protection, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist. Liability Only 50/100/50: $50,000 per person/$100,000 maximum per accident for bodily injury; $50,000 for property damage. Liability pays for injuries/damage you cause others. Full Coverage 100/300/100: $100,000 per person/$300,000 maximum per accident for bodily injury; $100,000 for property damage; comprehensive and collision coverage with $500 deductible. Liability pays for injuries/damage you cause others. Comprehensive and collision pay for damage to your car.
94404 Foster City
For  30  Year Old   Male  (Type:  Liability - Minimum )
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highest rate Highest Rate $56/mo.
lowest rate Lowest Rate $26/mo.
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96107 - Coleville: $33
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96093 - Weaverville: $34
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Michelle Megna
Contributing Researcher

Michelle is a writer, editor and expert on car insurance and personal finance. She's a former editorial director. Prior to joining, she reported and edited articles on technology, lifestyle, education and government for magazines, websites and major newspapers, including the New York Daily News.